March 2011 - Parks & Recreation - 57

in

Child Hunger and Obesity
A Paradox with a Solution in Parks and Recreation
By James O'Connor

Children in Los Angeles
enjoy a nutritious meal

T

oo often, reducing hunger and promoting healthy
eating among children are viewed as competing interests. In fact, they can be mutually reinforcing and
complementary strategies: expanding participation in federal
nutrition programs reduces childhood hunger and improves
children's diets.
More than 31 million children received nutritious lunches
through the National School Lunch Program in 2009. By comparison, in the same year, less fewer than 3 million children
participated in the Summer Food Service Program, which
provides nutritious meals while school is out. By increasing
children's participation in out-of-school-time programs that include nutritious meals-before school, after school, and during
summertime-parks and recreation can play a critical role in
children's health and community well-being.

	

America's Childhood Hunger Problem
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Census Bureau report that in 2008, 16.7 million children lived in food insecure households. That is nearly 1 out of every 4 children in the
United States. The depth of children's deprivation varies. Some
have to skip meals; others get enough food but eat an unbalanced diet out of economic necessity. Some children watch
parents or silbings go hungry so they can eat. Still others stand
in line with their parents at food pantries. Widespread food insecurity exists even with the many effective public nutrition
supports the nation has created-the National School Lunch
Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), Child
and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food
Stamp Program), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for

www.NRPA .ORG

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March 2011 - Parks & Recreation

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