All posts by ClancyAdm1n

18-Day Food Drought Exacerbates Childhood Hunger

18-Day Food Drought Exacerbates Childhood Hunger

18-Day Food Drought Exacerbates Childhood Hunger

Childhood hunger does not take a summer vacation and becomes much worse for 13.1 million children struggling to find their next meal in the United States. In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and many cities across the country, children who normally receive a free or reduced lunch during the school year will experience an 18-day food draught which exacerbates childhood hunger in June.

What would you do for 18 days if you were child without food?

The 18-day food draught is the result of a gap between the end of the School Nutrition Programs (National School Lunch & Breakfast Programs) and the start of the Summer Feeding Program. To compound the problem, food donations are also at an all-time low for food pantries during the summer months.

Hunger occurs 365 days out of the year and is not limited to the holidays.

Unfortunately, only 1 in 6 children who participate in school nutrition programs utilize the summer feeding program for a variety of reasons. The biggest barrier to summer meals is that there are 2 school meal programs for every summer meal program. In addition, many summer programs close or open later in the summer because they have limited staff. Other barriers include transportation and lack of knowledge of programs.

4 Tips to improve access to summer nutrition programs and fight childhood hunger:

1| Know the Location of a Local Summer Meal Program

All children who are 18 years and under can received a free lunch at a Summer Meals Program. To find a site near you, visit Summer Food Rocks.

2| Find Your Local Food Pantry

The absence of free and reduced school lunches in the summer can increase grocery bills by a couple hundred dollars a month. To help manage your food budget, find a local food pantry by visiting Feeding America.

3| Donate Food All Year Long (especially during the summer)

The best food to donate to a local food pantry include canned vegetables, peanut butter, canned meats, pasta, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, beans, and rice. Toiletries are great bonus items and include: feminine hygiene products, diapers, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, deodorant, toilet paper and laundry detergent. To learn how to donate healthier food options, visit Give Healthy.

4| Know other Food Resources

There are many local grass-root efforts to fight childhood hunger.  For example, Dinner for Kids  is an organization that delivers hot meals to children in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. You can also reach out to neighboring churches, even if you are not a member and ask for help.

While food insecurity impacts everyone’s health negatively, it is particularly crushing to children. Nourishing foods are critical to a child’s mental, emotional, and physical development.

If we are serious about ending childhood hunger in the United States and improving the health of our next generation, we must dismantle the barriers and stigma associated with food assistance programs. We must shift the way we individually and collectively think and talk about hunger in the United States.

Feeding Baby Giveaway with $600 in Prizes and 9 Winners!

What if you could feed your baby with absolute confidence, knowing you were setting the foundation for nourishing eating habits and supporting your child to have a healthy relations with food?

Feeding Baby Giveaway with $600 in Prizes and 9 Winners! Welcome to Feeding Baby Giveaway with $600 in Prizes and 9 Winners!

As a conscientious parent, you want your baby to get the nutrition she needs – not only to grow and develop physically, but to be the best she can be.  You’d love nothing more than for your baby to enjoy eating, without fighting, without pressure, and without you stressing out if the food you’re giving your baby contains optimal nutrients for growth and development. Feed Your Baby, Keep Your Sanity {grand prize of the giveaway} is an interactive, self-paced online program that will help you feed in a way that feels natural, simple, and structured. The Feed Your Baby Giveaway is brought to you by Kiddo Feedo, Jill Castle MS, RDN, & Clancy Harrison to give you everything you need to nourish your infant. There are 9 winners with $600 in total prize value.

Feed Your Baby Giveaway Individual Prizes include:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Feed Your Baby, Keep Your Sanity is designed to help you implement a feeding philosophy so you can raise a healthy adventurous eater. You’ll discover what to do, how to do it, and why.  The giveaway starts on May 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST and ends on June 6, 2017 at 12:00 AM.

Hunger is 365 Days a Year (not just holidays!)

Hunger is 365 Days a Year (not just holidays!)

Hunger is 365 Days a Year (not just holidays!)

Hunger exists 365 days a year not just during the holiday season. Food donations slow down to dribbles in the spring and then a drought during the summer months. The highest need for food donations occur during the summer months because of the large participation gap between the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Feeding Program.

During the school year, 22 million children rely on the National School Lunch Program for a steady and predictable lunch. In the summer, this daily meal disappears for approximately 82% of those children due to transportation, location of summer feeding programs, unsafe areas, and weather.  Parents are forced to stretch their tight budgets and rely on food pantries. Let’s work together to end hunger all year long.

5 ways you can donate to end hunger today:

1| Donate your passion!

What are you passionate about? Everyone has something unique to offer the world. People come to our food pantry to sort, pack, or distribute food. The Al Beech West Side Food Pantry empowers volunteers to lead with their passion to fight hunger with dignity. When people lead with their passion, dignity is cultivated.

  • Student allowed to practice instruments during client pick up.
  • Photography of our free farmer’s market to help bring awareness to our program and mission.
  • A senior gentleman built new shelves to ensure safety of our volunteers.
  • A retired senior and Master Gardener donated time to teach children how to run our small food pantry garden.
  • A college student helped edit articles for the promotion of the food pantry.

2| Don’t Let Garden Surplus Rot

Consider dropping off your garden surplus. One cucumber can change the world. If everyone dropped off one piece of produce, we would be able to feed many people.

3| Know the Right Foods

Food pantries appreciate nourishing non-perishable canned foods such as tuna, chicken, beef, salmon, peanut butter, beans, fruits, and vegetables that contain no added salt or sugar. It is always best to buy canned items with a pull-tab to open with ease. Plastic containers are preferred over glass. Toiletries most appreciated by clients include: tooth brushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, feminine hygiene, and diapers.

4| FREE Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic grocery bags are free and needed to pack up the food for the clients receiving the food donations.

5| Spend Time in Parks

Summer Feeding Programs need volunteers. Reach out to you local food bank to find a Summer Feeding Program near you. Without volunteers to distribute the lunch, the programs cannot run and many children rely on this meal.

Hunger is real for 1 in 6 children in the United States. Together we can change the world and be the voice many children need.

Food Dignity Can End Hunger

Food Dignity Can End Hunger Everyday we make choices. Today, I had the privilege to buy hearty whole wheat bread over a cheaper white loaf of bread. Last night, my children decided between broccoli and asparagus. The opportunity to make decisions is deep-rooted in our daily activity. Unfortunately, many individuals may not appreciate the privilege of choice; making it difficult to empathize with people who experience hardships such as hunger.

There are 13.1 million children experiencing food insecurity in the United States putting the health of our nation at risk. Nourishing food is vital for establishing a child’s health, academic achievement, and their economic contribution to society.

Many people who qualify for food assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formally known as food stamps) may choose not receive the nutrition support they need because of the stigma associated with food assistance.

At the Al Beech West Side Food Pantry in Kingston, Pa, our mission is to fight hunger with dignity and the power of choice. In 2015, the food pantry board decided to invest in a $7,000 walk-in cooler for the ability to store and distribute fresh food to the clients of the food pantry. In the first year, the food pantry distributed over $50,000 worth of fresh food such as eggs, produce, milk, cheese, and meat at a bi-weekly produce stand. The produce stand is free to both the food pantry volunteers and clients.

Giving our clients and volunteers the power of unlimited choice of produce has created an unexpected environment at the food pantry. The food pantry has become a place of friendship, recipe sharing, and more importantly a place that cultivates dignity. Food distribution at the food pantry is not seen as a handout but as a resource for everyone, including our volunteers.

If we want to transform the health of our next generation, we must fight hunger with dignity by fostering the power of choice. When people have the liberty to make decisions about food, they have power over their health and future. Fighting hunger with dignity combined with access to fresh and nourishing food is the key in securing a healthier and prosperous nation.

Transforming Thoughts about Hunger in US

Food insecurity (hunger) is a major public health concern in the United States impacting nearly 50 million people and is especially crushing to children. Before I became the president of The Al Beech West Side Food Pantry, I did not understand the true face of hunger. I thought food insecurity was associated with people living in chronic poverty. I was wrong.

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The truth is many people live a paycheck away from making the hard decision between electricity, medication, and gas for food. The loss of a family member, birth of a child, reduced wages, a natural disaster, and even the break down of a car can put a family over the edge.

Serving clients for 5 years, I witness that childhood hunger is real in our communities. The stereotypically visualization of hunger includes children with bloated bellies, sunken eyes, and skinny limbs. In the United States, food insecurity is an invisible epidemic because it is often associated with a normal weight.

If we want to curb our nation’s food insecurity epidemic, we must collectively change the way we view, treat, and talk about poverty in the United States. Here are simple ideas to transform hunger in the United States.

5 Ways to help in your community

1. Donate your unique passion


Reach out to your local food bank and pantry to donate your passion. While it is great to have people available to pack food bags for client pick up, it is even better to have people with passion. Here are some past donations full of passion:

  • A canvas painting of fresh produce by a high school student to help raise money in an auction
  • Elementary students practicing their instruments during client pick up. We have experienced the sounds of flutes, guitars, and pianos while clients picked up their orders!
  • A college student brought her gift of photography to help with social media promotion of the bi-weekly farmer’s market (see below).
  • A senior gentleman built us new shelves to ensure safety of our volunteers.

2. Organize a food sorting play date


Call your local food pantry to determine when there is a food donation being delivered. Let them know you want to organize a volunteer day for kids. Older kids can inspect the food for expired product and damaged goods. Younger kids can organize the food by product and the parents can carry any heavy items to storage.

3. Know the best foods to donate


When donating foods know which foods are the most nourishing but self-stable. Food pantries appreciate canned foods such as tuna, chicken, beef, salmon, peanut butter, beans, fruits, and vegetables that contain no added salt or sugar.

4. Donate garden surplus


Even if you have one cucumber drop it off! If everyone gave just one cucumber, there would be more than enough to go around. Remember- very piece counts and is worth your time.

5. Transform thoughts through compassion


Learn about food insecurity by listening to stories around you. If you have been on a food assistance program yourself, think and refer to it as a positive influence in your life. For example- if you participated in the National School Lunch Program, consider how it helped you succeed in school. Would you have been able to concentrate on your spelling test? Would you be where you are today, if you did not have access to  the program?

Clancy’s Mission & Initiatives

My mission is to decrease the stigma associated with food assistance programs in the hopes that more families will take advantage of programs such as food stamps and WIC. Food assistance programs give parents access to better food options and decrease the stress caused by the fear of running out of food.

Cooking with Clancy website

Cooking with Clancy is a website where parents can find affordable food recipes and learn how to eat nourishing foods on a strict budget. Parents learn how to cook the most nourishing and affordable foods along with timesaving kitchen tips. For access to her FREE meal plans click on the box below.

Access to a FREE meal planning course, meal plans, & most affordable health food list!

Children Feeding Children Greenhouse Project

The grassroots project is an effort to fight local hunger with dignity and fresh produce. The greenhouse is housed a local elementary school where the students cultivate transplants from seeds. The transplants are then donated to the youth-based organizations for edible landscaping and community gardens who donate the harvest back to the food pantry. To learn more, please email me at healthylivingrd@gmail.com.

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Bi-Weekly Farmer’s Market

Each week the food pantry hosts a free farmer’s market for the food pantry recipients, volunteers, and other organizations associated the food pantry. Allowing community members and food pantry guests to take produce together creates an environment of community and recipe sharing while creating dignity.

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One Pot Meat Spaghetti Recipe

One Pot Meat Spaghetti is not only tasty but it is very affordable at $1.25 per serving. It is a featured dish in our meal plans that are complete with cooking strategies and shopping lists. Visit Cooking with Clancy Meal Planning to learn how to access the meal plans that feed a family of four on roughly $125/week.

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1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or water
1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5 tsp. salt or to taste
3 tsp. italian seasoning or pizza seasoning
16 ounces spaghetti noodles (broken)
1 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Brown meat and onions in a large stock pot over medium-high heat until fully cooked.
Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, and spices; bring to a boil.
Add spaghetti, cover pan, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Depending on type of pasta, you may need to add more broth or water as needed for desired consistency.
When spaghetti is tender, top with grated cheese.
Refrigerate leftovers with in 2-3 hours.

About the Author, Clancy Harrison

Clancy Harrison MS, RD, LDN is a sought after speaker for Congressional Briefings, live TV segments, and professional seminars.  Clancy is an award winning author of Feeding Baby and Past President of Northeast Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.