In this season of plenty, when my friends and I often bemoan the plethora of tempting holiday treats and eats around us, Kaiser Health News reminded me that an increasing number of American families experience hunger. KHN recently reported that the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis established a food pantry – one of the nation’s few that are hospital-based – to provide healthy food to families in need. In September, the food pantry gave out 9,619 pounds of food to 232 families; that same month, KHN states, “hospital officials released data showing that household food insecurity — a research term that means families are unable to afford enough healthy food to eat — increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 41 percent in 2010 among young children at the hospital.”
That’s an issue “that affects everyone,” says Dr. Diana Cutts, assistant chief of pediatrics at Hennepin. When a child suffers from hunger, it affects the larger community, “such as if a child falls behind his or her classmates in school and requires special education,” KHN says.
The article is a sad reminder of the hardships that many face in this economy. I’m gladdened by the Hennepin hospital’s efforts to help children and reminded to do my part by contributing to my local food pantry.
What needs do you see in your community?