Around the world, children are showing us their strength and leadership advocating for a more sustainable world for all. But still not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood; too many childhoods are cut short and far too many from hunger and malnutrition, a solvable problem.
World Children’s Day, which is celebrated on 20 November every year was established by the United Nations (UN) in 1954 and is marked to “promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.”
What role does food play in securing a child’s future?
Andra Nel, CSI Manager at KFC Add Hope, says kids who are hungry can’t learn, grow or thrive. “We see more and more research coming through about kids being hungry and not having food security in their early years. Research also shows that these kids have up to 20% less earning potential once they start working. Socially, they’re also not able to adapt to a normal working environment because of the challenges they had growing up,” Andra says.
When kids are hungry, they also really struggle to engage and concentrate in classrooms.
Malnutrition in kids under 5
The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucially important for their long-term nutrition and development. So, if during these years a child doesn’t have enough food, stunting can happen which cannot be reversed in later years.
According to a report by globalcitizen.org, 27% of children under the age of 3 experience stunted growth due to a lack of nutrients and vitamins.
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“Kids who are malnourished are also very prone to illnesses because they’re not getting the nutrients they need in order to function properly and as such their growth and development is severely affected,” says Andra.
The impact of lack of nutrition on children
Being hungry affects a child’s ability to concentrate. It makes a child more likely to get sick and, as a result, miss school. And it puts a child at increased risk of developing mental health issues.
Childhood hunger traps children in a cycle of poverty and indigence.
Andra says they’ve often seen that kids take turns to eat in households through the NGO’s that they support, and some days there just isn’t anything to eat.
“Hunger violates the very basic Human Right of a child. Every child should have the right to food,” Andra says.
The role Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) play in feeding children
“ECD’s really addresses that under 5 gap,” Andra says. “Often kids get their only meal at school because there simply isn’t any food in the house. ECD’s also play a crucial part in the community. Often, they don’t just support the kids at school, but also the families.”
What can communities do to help?
- It takes a village to raise a child.
- When you have more food than you need and you can help a family in need, do that.
- Add Hope would like to partner with South Africans to keep on adding their R2 to their order. “Add Hope feeds over 30 million meals to over 150 000 children every year. But we are aware that there’s still a far greater need and together we can solve this problem,” Andra says.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.