25 October 2015

Child Hunger - A Precursor to Continued Social and Health Vulnerability

Recently, the New York Times published a piece by Catherine Saint Louis that outlined concerns regarding the 16 million or so U. S. children who suffer from food insecurity and complications that result from inadequate nutrition.  The article stated that the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for all patients in the U.S. to be nutritionally screened during regular office visits.  

Research has indicated that children who are nutritionally deprived during their formative years are more prone to behavioral problems and substandard physical development.
Guatemalan Mayan Children 2003

These facts beg the question if child hunger has become a concern in the United States, what does it mean for  millions of children who grow up around the globe in poor communities where hunger is a daily fact of life?

Key issues for health volunteers must become:

1.  How can residents of poor and low resource communities become
     nutritionally secure?

2.  How can we anticipate emergence of future leaders from poor
     communities if their early diet consistently predisposes them to
     adult health problems and chronic disease?

3. There are many NGOs world-wide, including UMCOR that aggressively address immediate,
    short-term needs of world hunger through food distribution programs.  What then are long-term 
    strategies that mission volunteers can use to address this problem?

Possible Answers May Include:

1.  Aggressive soil/land assessment of available planting sites.
2.  Seed programs that match dietary needs, habits and growing conditions of the area.
3.  Experts to provide mentorship to community leaders who will manage the programs.
4.  Nutrition and food preparation education that are consistent with local habits and lifestyle.
5.  Health education programs on the benefits of a healthy diet.
6.  Organizational training for local leaders who will provide program oversight.

May God guide us as we work to correct this global epidemic. If you have suggestions or comments on how to address the prevailing issue of global child hunger, please comment, below.

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