In December 2011, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) published a damning report on the impact rising food costs and lower income levels were having on healthy eating and malnutrition for schoolkids in the U.S.
The full 38-page study can be found here, but some of the key takeaways were:
- In households where the annual income was less than $24,000, families suffered food hardship (the ability to provide food) 2.5 times more than households where the annual income was between $60,000 and $89,999;
- Of the homes in the low income bracket, almost one fifth – 18.5% – said the biggest issues they faced was accessibility to food and affordability to buy that food;
- People self-reporting illness in these households were four times as as likely to be ill as a result of food hardship than those with better access;
- 133 congressional districts across the U.S. had at least 10% of households in their district where children were hungry because of lack of access to affordable, healthy food.
These are just some of the statistics from the study. And that’s just one particular study and example, from one country. Globally, there’s a huge problem with childhood hunger and affordable healthy foods. Consider this image:
Is it any real wonder that there’s an issue with food hardship and access to quality food when it’s cheaper to buy junk food?
It’s into this territory that the problem of delinquent school lunches has arisen. In many countries, including the U.S., there are various subsidized food programs to try and ensure that kids get at least one healthy meal per day – their school lunch.
The problem is, these subsidies and programs still don’t always help those who need it the most, due to continued economic hardship, personal finance reasons, and (at times) simply poor management from parents, well-meaning or not. Because of this, accounts fall into delinquency and the kids suffer.
It’s something that Ryan Cox is taking a stand against and trying to change.
From Small Acorns…
He’s not a celebrity; he doesn’t have the ears of millions through political or media channels; and he’s no Superman.
He’s simply an entrepreneur that doesn’t believe kids shouldn’t eat through no financial fault of their own.
To counter the delinquent school lunch accounts in the U.S., Ryan decided to pay off the delinquent accounts at his local school. And then things snowballed…
One school became another, then another, and another. Friends across social networks began donating, helping, supporting, sharing, and more, and the project took a life of its own. The goal now is to expand across the U.S. and out of Ryan’s home state.
I caught up with Ryan to find out more about his project, and how you can help.
The Genesis of a Movement
Building Grace Through Compassion
A Political Battle?
Can?We Change Things When the Roots Are So Deep?
We’re Only Just Getting Started
All In This Together – How You Can Help
A Problem Only Remains a Problem Through Inaction
I’m truly inspired by what Ryan’s trying to achieve. I’ve known him for a while on social, and he’s always struck me as one of “the good guys” – this project of his shows that in spades.
I’m equally impressed at how level-headed he is about who’s “at fault” here – multiple sources, as opposed to blaming one party or part of society.
Yes, politicians need to step up and force this issue more, and whatever government is ruling needs to look at how we’re placing junk food so cheaply and easily in the hands of those who need more quality nutrition.
But that only comes with actions from all of us, whether that be looking at lobbying our local councilors, looking at where our taxes could be spent, how we can help our local schools (in whatever country we’re in), and how we can work with corporations and food suppliers to alleviate this problem.
Ryan Cox has shown one way we can start – it’s up to us to support and keep the conversation and movement going, however that may take form.
Let’s start here.
image: Lubs Mary.