An abundance of healthy selections. Clearly marked nutrition labeling. The ability to pre-order. Fresh produce and meat. The 364,040 people in Connecticut who face hunger—one in every 10 residents—are increasingly likely to find these and other grocery store-like features at their local food pantries.
Isolation and lack of social get-togethers during the pandemic took a toll on high school students nationally, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The findings are based on anonymous online questionnaires taken during the first six months of 2021. About 7,700 high school students in grades 9-12, who attend 128 public and private schools, participated. According to the CDC survey results:
• More than a third (37%) of high school students said they experienced poor mental health. • About 44% said they felt sad or hopeless in the past year.
In stark contrast to the general financial well-being of Connecticut residents, the state is in a hunger crisis that is negatively impacting children, primarily in urban areas. The most recent data from Feeding America shows that in 2016, 11.6 percent of the total Connecticut population was living with food insecurity, and of that percentage, 15.6 percent were children. According to the parameters set at the World Food Summit in 1996, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
While food security may be something most Connecticut residents take for granted, a significant portion of the Connecticut population wonders every day where their next meal will come from. The impact of this issue is especially concerning when considering how it is affecting children. The 2018 report on Child Food Insecurity by Feeding America states that struggling with food insecurity puts children at a greater risk for “stunted development, anemia and asthma, oral health problems and hospitalization.”