In the last few months, I have received a recurring question, “Why do you feel we need a supplemental food program for children out during school breaks? Doesn't the No Kid Hungry program solve the problem?” My concerns are based primarily on statistical facts.
"Hungry and Homeless Children"
My first reason: The school year of 2012-2013 statistics show 8500+ students are enrolled in either a reduced or free lunch program within the Forsyth county school system – that’s 21%. The reduced food program is only 4% of the student population. Forsyth County also has over 400 children registered as homeless meeting the federal definition.
Studies show that there is a direct link between child/youth hunger and child sex trafficking. Parents that are struggling to feed their families are sometimes forced to make the unthinkable decision of asking the older children to be on their own. This situation leaves them homeless and vulnerable to anyone offering them a place to sleep or bite of food to eat. Atlanta has the highest volume of human trafficking in the United States and third in the world.
Our hungry and homeless children are also subject to drug trafficking and gun trafficking. In ranking order by volume of victims, it is drug, sex and then gun trafficking which causes children to be sold like commodities. Eighty (80%) percent of human trafficking victims are female. In Georgia, it is estimated that between two to five hundred girls are commercially sexually exploited throughout Georgia per month. The estimate proportion for boys would be 40 to 100 per month. Research has indicated that the average age of entry into human trafficking is between 12 and 14 years old. The latest Atlanta study reflects it is no longer an airport area situation. The situation is in all the surrounding suburbs and in Forsyth County. 1,200,000 children lose their innocence annually, which is 1 child every 2 minutes. There are 200,000 slaves in the United States, 17,500 are trafficked.
Food and Shelter are only two venues of abduction. Drugs, kidnapping, recruitment and seduction are a few more.
My second reason: The medical world is astounded at the steady increase of persons diagnosed with ADD related illness. It was recently revealed that some of these persons may have been mis-diagnosed. While the symptoms and signs are in line with the ADD diagnosis, they only mirror the disease. Children who do not receive proper nutrition can develop a similar condition, NDD. Nutritional Deficit Disorder.
Let’s save our children giving them a fair, level playing field.