NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An annual study conducted by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health revealed that based on U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Standards, 51% of West Tennessee parents struggle with food insecurity, or a lack of access to enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
More than half of all parents included in the study shared that they use some type of food assistance program.
The poll results were alarming to Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy.
“No child should go to bed hungry tonight. This should be a call to action for all of us to do more,” Patrick said.
According to Shari Barkin, Department of Pediatrics Director at Vanderbilt, the lack of access to healthy food options negatively affects a child's health, motivation to learn, and overall mood.
Patrick, the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health policy, and Tennessee legislatures are now making moves to provide support to Tennessee families who struggle to secure adequate resources that promote health and stability.
"Currently the Tennessee legislature is considering making breakfast and lunch free for all children,” Patrick said. “Support for free lunch was the most agreed upon issue in our poll this year and I believe this is reflective of how serious parents believe this issue is to Tennessee children.”
Finding solutions that close the food security gap is crucial to the betterment and overall improvement of quality of life for Tennessee children and families.