Two nights ago I watched a young girl at Street Church draw the picture below. It seemed to have a special meaning, so I casually asked her to explain. Her response was a painful reminder that there are still kids in Houston for whom hunger is real.”This is a little girl praying to God.” She said, pointing to the small figure with a sad face at the center of the drawing. “She is saying ‘I am hungry.’ Then God sends these people to bring her food.” She moves her hand to point to stick figures holding bags of food and gifts. This particular little girl lives without air conditioning, clean surroundings and, now I fear, enough food to eat. For many of the children who come to the Street Church Childcare, hunger is very real in their lives.
Although many of the parents are on welfare, food stamps can easily be traded for cash at half the value. This money can then be used for illegal substances, alcohol, or more general items such as bus fare or cigarettes. In addition, although Houston is home to several food-pantries, shelters and food banks it requires persistence, initiative and commitment on the part of the parents in order to ensure that these resources reach their children.
The United States Department of Agriculture stated that 16 million children in America are living in households without consistent access to adequate food. Children who struggle with hunger are likely to be sick more often, to recover from illness more slowly, and to be hospitalized more frequently. According to the Harvard School Breakfast Research Summary, “Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food to eat tend to have significantly higher levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious.”
It is easy to assume that hunger is something that touches only the 3rd world country, when in reality it is present in our cities, our counties and our towns.