(Good Things Utah) Throughout the pandemic, it’s been an extra struggle to keep balanced, especially for those who are food-insecure in the state. Today on Good Things Utah, we have USANA Kids Eat Director Michelle Benedict with us to tell us what we can do to help.

Regardless of where you live in the United States, hunger is in our own backyards here in Utah. Many of our neighbors are either going to bed or waking up hungry, without any one even knowing about it.

Recent stats show that 1 in 7 kids in Utah is food insecure. That means that those kids that are going home and don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Kids of all ages need proper nutrition to make sure they’re able to perform with their highest level of success. Missing a meal or two has a detrimental effect on awareness and being in a constant state of food insecurity is even worse.

A majority of the families USANA Kids Eat serves have at least one full-time working parent, but they face tremendous challenges. The parents live in fear of having even a single unexpected expense, it’s an every day reality.

Michelle has been told by school’s that Children who come in and talk and tell her that they don’t know why they’re picking up meals. It’s become an endearing story to hear and see that parents are trying to shield their children from what’s really going on at home.

USANA Kids Eat is coming together to address hunger in the community as a long term goal. They have been working with organizations who provide a steady source of charity to help end a cycle and provide nutrition needed to kids to help them succeed.

Unfortunately, the situation is dire and COVID has given more concern to Utah’s food-insecure kids. Supply chain issues have increased prices on everything. 100% of each dollar goes toward food for kids, but that amount isn’t going far due in this pandemic.

Experts predicted Utah could worsen by 75% with food-insecure kids but they’re working to change that.

Three ways food insecurity affects Utah kids:

  • They have signs of higher levels of stress and anxiety. When you know where your next meal is coming from, you deal with other things. It’s normal. When you don’t, THAT becomes your focus because you’re hungry, your siblings are hungry. And they’re looking to you for help.
  • They assume responsibilities above their age level and are forced into situations and decisions that typically lie with adults. For example, their mom has to work a swing shift to pay the bills, so they make dinner with what they have in the cupboard.
  • They are resilient and resourceful. They face a food insecurity crisis daily and figure out ways to survive, but it’s not just one day. It’s day after day and week after week. They work to overcome feelings of being “less than.” And it could be embarrassing. They see others around them with plenty and they feel different. And maybe even feel, “Why me?”

For more information about USANA Kids Eat and how you can help or donate, Visit their website.

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