New York City Struggling To Keep Kids Fed

New York City is struggling to keep young children fed, as food insecurity increases with inflation and supply disruptions.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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food insecurity

Pandemic response didn’t just destroy the economy and drive a national worker shortage to its limits, the long-term effects of excessive lockdown measures have proven to increase poverty and hunger. New York City is especially struggling. The area was subjected to some of the strictest isolation measures in the country and the effects have been devastating. Now, 1 in 4 schoolchildren are experiencing food insecurity. 

This issue has increased to such proportions — according to Feeding America — food insecurity issues increased by 36% for the general population and 46% for children compared to pre-pandemic numbers. As inflation continues to climb, many are already suffering due to the economic crisis. Keeping kids fed is becoming an increasingly difficult problem, especially as healthy foods skyrocket in price as compared to overly processed complex carbohydrate-laden box foods. 

During the pandemic, concerns about food insecurity reached new heights. This sparked community efforts to place refrigerators throughout the city and allow individuals to stock them with charitable offerings. Schools especially benefited from this, but then classrooms shut down in the spring of 2020, cutting children off from a much-needed source of healthy food options throughout the day. 

School lunches are taxpayer-funded, giving all students free lunches on school days. This has become the standard in the city being that 70% of schoolchildren come from low-income backgrounds. As concerns about food insecurity peaked in 2020, the New York City Schools offered grab-and-go meals during lockdowns to provide over 130 million meals. 

While lockdowns were proposed to only last for two weeks, these measures were extended again and again in New York City, and organizations combating food insecurity ran out of fresh foods and mainly provided dry boxed goods. These supplements did not offer the proper nutrition, so although students were fed, malnourishment concerns came to the forefront. Thankfully volunteers started donating their own fresh fruit and vegetables, but continuing these endeavors is a challenge. 

More than 462,000 children are now experiencing food insecurity. Community efforts and charitable programs worked to keep students fed for the past two years, but now efforts to provide more plant-based foods are leaving out healthy protein enriched meats — which build muscles, aid body growth, and balances hormones and enzymes, as well as boost the immune system and supports cell repair and the production of new cells. Children need healthy proteins in order to grow up big and strong. 

food insecurity

As reports of food shortages have been circulated since 2020, Americans have witnessed empty grocery shelves and delayed food shipments, but no food items have become so scarce or so expensive as meat products. Meat products raise testosterone levels, and so they are especially important for young males to consume. Testosterone is needed for young males to properly mature and is even beneficial for young females as it aids bone growth. While many charities working to combat food insecurities praise their growing efforts to offer more plant-based foods, childhood nutritional needs cannot be fully met without a proper balanced diet. 

The people of New York City have faced many challenges in the past few years. From excessive isolation measures to food insecurities, educating and feeding children has been exceptionally difficult. Even with free lunch programs resuming, more students are going hungry and that is a problem that needs long-term solutions which provide a wide array of nutritional options.