It can be difficult and heartbreaking to wrap our heads around the fact that thousands of children in Ontario, including many in Brant-Haldimand, have little access to food once they leave school on Friday afternoon.
Not only can it be emotionally distressing for children to live with food insecurity, this issue can eventually lead to health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Impacts such as difficulty concentrating in school and depression are also associated with food insecurity.
While our communities might appear to be well-off, statistics indicate that 8.6% of households in Brant County are considered low-income, with 20.8% of children in Brantford specifically living in low-income households. This means that roughly 5,000 children and youth are susceptible to food insecurity in Brant County alone.
For many children, hunger isn’t just an occasional missed meal; it is a way of life. Children who live with hunger develop physically and socially at a slower pace than their peers. Chronically hungry children experience higher levels of anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability, and aggression. Chronic hunger results in students with lower attendance rates at school and lower academic performance. Even relatively short-term nutritional deficiencies can negatively impact a child’s health, causing cognitive and developmental damage that prevents them from performing at their full potential.