|Seven-year-old Skyla eats lunch at the Miguel Barreto Union League Boys & Girls Club in Humboldt Park.|
Why is it important for children to have healthy meals? What does it feel like when a child is hungry? Often, parents and teachers answer those questions. But a child’s insight can provide a different perspective. In this 1 in 5 story, children eat lunch and talk about why they think meal programs are important.
It was lunch time at the Miguel Barreto Union League Boys & Girls Club in Humboldt Park. A group of energized children skipped into the lunch room to find a turkey sandwich, apple and milk sitting at each chair. Laughing and talking to friends, the group sat down and began to eat.
“These apples make me really happy!” said 5-year-old Anastasia, proudly displaying a smile missing two baby teeth.
Seven-year-old Miles sat across the room from Anastasia. He was finishing his carton of milk.
“This is important to me because it means I can be healthy,” he said.
Meanwhile, 9-year-old Jose was just finishing his turkey sandwich. He doesn’t like being hungry at school.
“Being hungry at school is bad. If you’re hungry, you’re going to be thinking about the food and getting home,” he said. “We need to have healthy food so we can learn.”
At another table, Paulo, a 4th grader, knows that healthy food is an important part of growing up.
“Having food is good so that you can get strong and have lots of energy,” he said.
Six-year-old Mary Jane had slid under the bench at Paulo’s table. She popped her head up and giggled.
“Food is just good for me!” she exclaimed.
In Cook County, nearly 255,000 children – 1 in 5 – is at risk of hunger. On September 30, 2015, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization – the program that funds many children’s meal programs in our community – is set to expire. Encourage lawmakers to support these critical programs. Visit chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy to get involved.