Saturday, September 28, 2013

Child Hunger is Not Just A Bad Dream, It's a Living Nightmare

At 5:20AM this morning, I awakened to crying. My 7-year-old had a bad dream. About hunger. In the dream, she was starving and alone in her hunger when all around her people were eating. How blessed she is that this was just a dream. How cruel the world is, that this is a living nightmare for 3.1 million children in the world while so many of us live in plenty.

Globally, 6.9 million kids under the age of five still die every year of preventable and treatable causes. the underlying cause of death for 3.1 million of these children is malnutrition. Lack of quality nutrition accounts for 45% of all child deaths and causes irreversible physical and mental stunting in 165 million children each year. 

Those are the statistics, but they do not do justice to the pain and suffering of gnawing, chronic hunger. I think about my crying child and reflect on what I heard from Roger Thurow, author of Enough and The Last Hunger Season. He has seen the brutal face of hunger and famine. He said truly hungry children do not cry. They don't have the energy to cry or complain. They stare listlessly in their parents laps...parents who love them very much, but are powerless to help.

Pretty horrible. Now, let's talk about opportunity.

The 1000 Days Campaign is a call to action currently educating people on the enormous opportunity to turn the tide for children by focusing getting them proper nutrition in the first 1000 days of their lives. Of course, we want food all throughout our lives, but it turns out that the first 2-3 years of life are uniquely critical. From the 1,000 Days Campaign website:
"The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday offer a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures. The right nutrition during this 1,000 day window can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. It can also shape a society’s long-term health, stability and prosperity."
Definitely go to their website for more information. Now, let's talk about action.

We must scale up child nutrition on a global level and to do that we need government support. Right now in the U.S., there is an active resolution about child nutrition. H.Res. 254 calls on the U.S. to develop a comprehensive whole-of-government strategy to ensure we are reaching children with the critical nutrients they need to survive and grow to their full potential. This is not a funding bill. This is strategy to make sure that we are coordinated and effective with our foreign aid. There is no reason on earth that this should be a hard sell or a partisan issue. Even those that seek to reduce spending should agree that what money is spent, should be spent well.

If you feel strongly about child hunger, here are three easy actions:
Let's make child hunger "just a bad dream" for children everywhere.