Clayton Early Learning
20Mar/15Off

Clayton Staff Working to Reduce Family Food Insecurity

Emily Cutting

Posted by Emily Cutting

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Emily Cutting

Emily Cutting

As Clayton celebrates National Nutrition Month this March and all the ways we promote healthy lifestyles to our children and families on a daily basis, we also seek to acknowledge the challenges many people living in Denver face with having the resources for appropriate foods for a nutritious diet., Professionals define food insecurity as a social and economic condition that stems from “the lack of consistent access to adequate food” (Coleman-Jensen, McFall, & Nord, 2013).  The Department of Agriculture states that this varies from hunger, a physiological condition, but can exacerbate into hunger if prolonged (Coleman-Jensen, McFall, & Nord, 2013).

 Hunger Close to Home

In 2011, 17.9 million families in the United States reported food insecurity at some point during the year.  This issue rings true right here in our neighborhoods surrounding Clayton Early Learning.  Research conducted at Clayton this past fall identified that across our school based and Head Start Home Based programs, 38.6% of families worried about food running out.  Food ran out completely for 18.7% of families at some point during the year.

Hunger Impacts Learningstress-busting-foods_med

Food insecurity can disturb children’s learning.  Hunger affects children’s biopsychosocial development and impairs a child’s ability to pay attention and retain information learned in the classroom.  Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that even “short episodes” of food insecurity can cause serious long-term damage to child development across cognitive, behavioral, emotional and physical spectrums (Raphel, 2014).

  • Clayton Staff Working to Combat Hunger in the Community

    The Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee has a twofold mission to act as a catalyst in building the capacity of families to prevent food insecurity through:

    1. Providing emergency access to nutritious food for all families and staff
    2. Educating families about food and nutrition in three main areas:
    • Food budgeting
    • Meal planning
    • Cooking skills

Throughout the year, the committee maintains the Food Pantry— an emergency resource for families and staff in need of support.  During the summer months, we maintain and harvest gardens to provide fresh produce at no cost.  We have collaborated with Denver Urban Gardens to offer two Youth Farmers’ Markets in the past year and strive to hold more this year!   The Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee hopes to reduce food insecurity within our community.  When our children have access to consistent and nutritious food, we can ensure that they have the brain nourishment needed to focus, grow, and succeed in school and life.Farmers market 2014

If you have any questions about the Fresh Produce/Food Pantry Committee or would like to get involved please contact

Sonia Chawla (schawla@claytonearlylearning.org) or Emily Cutting (ecutting@claytonearlylearning.org) for more information

References

Coleman-Jensen, A., McFall, W., & Nord, M., (2013). Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-11. United States  Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service, Economic Information Bulletin 113.

Raphel, S. (2014). Eye on Washington: Children, Hunger, and Poverty. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 27, 45-47.