ProMedica Contact: Julie McKinnon
Children’s Hunger Alliance Contact: Wendi Huntley
Afterschool Meal Program Combats Child Hunger
posted on: 10/03/2013TOLEDO, Ohio, Sept. 18, 2013 – With high rates of both hunger and poverty in Toledo, Children’s Hunger Alliance, ProMedica and other community partners have joined forces to ensure a growing number of youngsters have meals after school.
This school year, Children’s Hunger Alliance aims to serve more than 75,000 meals at sponsored afterschool programs in Toledo, an increase of 20,000 meals over last school year. The alliance is increasing the number of afterschool program sites it delivers meals to in the Toledo area from 33 to 43 to help reach that goal.
“Hunger is a severe problem in Toledo,” said Wendi Huntley, northwest regional director of Children’s Hunger Alliance. “It’s really a major issue in this community, and we need to look at ways to address it.”
Toledo ranks 28th among the nation’s top 100 cities for food insecurity, meaning residents don’t know where their next meal will come from, and nearly one in five residents faces hunger. The rate of child poverty continues to escalate in Toledo, increasing from 35.8% to 43.7% between 2010 and 2011.
The agency’s Afterschool Meal Program focuses on serving meals to children who live in neighborhoods where at least 50% of families qualify for subsidized school meals. The rate is closer to 80% in Toledo, where about 15,000 of 21,000 Toledo Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school. Toledo is one of several Ohio cities where Children’s Hunger Alliance operates an Afterschool Meal Program through the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program.
ProMedica is among key partners for the agency in Toledo, where an office was opened in 2011. ProMedica provides financial assistance and other support as part of its collaborative Come to the Table advocacy initiative to address hunger as a health issue both locally and nationally.
“The health and development of children who are hungry or don’t eat enough nutritious food can really be affected,” said Stephanie Cihon, ProMedica corporate director of Grants, Community Relations and Advocacy. “Hungry and malnourished children are more prone to colds, ear infections and other ailments, and they can have trouble learning in school,” Cihon added. “There also is a link to obesity, which can be caused by a lack of nutritious food.”
Children who are hungry or malnourished often have more behavioral problems, miss school more frequently and score lower on achievement tests, Huntley noted.
Today at 3:45 p.m., the Children’s Hunger Alliance and ProMedica are holding a media event to showcase the issue of child hunger and how the Afterschool Meal Program helps. The media event is being held during the University Church Afterschool Program at Reynolds Elementary School, 5000 Norwich Road, one of the partner sites where the agency delivers nutritious meals.
Representatives from both Toledo Public Schools and the city of Toledo also are expected to participate in today’s media event, which will observe September as Hunger Action Month.
Afterschool programs that want to have nutritious meals for their enrolled children should contact Devon Fay, coordinator, Children’s Hunger Alliance Afterschool Meal Program at 419-291-8252 or DFay@Childrenshungeralliance.org.
Please visit www.childrenshungeralliance.org for more information about Children’s Hunger Alliance. For more information about ProMedica, please visit www.promedica.org.
Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica is a mission-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization formed in 1986. ProMedica has more than 14,400 employees and nearly 1,700 physicians with more than 450 healthcare providers employed by ProMedica Physicians. Its 11 hospitals and more than 310 facilities offer comprehensive diagnostic, medical and surgical specialties in heart and vascular, oncology, orthopaedics, neurology, and women and pediatric services. ProMedica’s mission is to improve health and well-being, with a strong focus on wellness and clinical excellence, as well as innovative, community advocacy programs that address health-related issues such as hunger and obesity. For more information, please visit www.promedica.org.
Children’s Hunger Alliance is the statewide nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of childhood hunger through education, leadership, advocacy and service. The agency does this by feeding hungry minds and bodies. The organization provides programs that directly feed children nutritious meals, educate them and their families about healthy eating, and engage children in physical activity. Children’s Hunger Alliance also works with schools and other community based agencies to maximize children’s use of all child nutrition programs. To learn more, please visit www.childrenshungeralliance.org.