Ending Child Hunger in Arlington
Confronting the Reality of Child Hunger in Arlington
Despite being the 5th wealthiest county in America, Arlington is not immune to poverty and child hunger. The Arlington Food Insecurity Study, completed in 2012-2013, found that over 40% of Arlingtonians living on incomes of $60,000 or less experienced some degree of food insecurity. AFAC, the Arlington Food Assistance Center, serves over 2,400 families per week, and children account for 35% of individuals served. And those numbers are from before the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since the Arlington Food Insecurity Study’s publication, progress has been made, but there is still much work to do. In 2018, nearly 1/3 of Arlington Public School students received free and reduced fee meals, and almost 1/10 high school students reported experiencing hunger due to food insecurity at home. Food insecurity disproportionately affects marginalized and low-income communities. By contributing to the cycle of poverty and preventing individuals from realizing their potential, child hunger affects all Arlingtonians. Creating a better Arlington for tomorrow starts with addressing food insecurity today.
Working Together to End Child Hunger
Matt is a firm believer of food security as a human right. He brings valuable experience in working on hunger issues for Feeding America to the County Board, and championed ending child hunger by 2022 as a campaign goal during his election. His commitment to working on child hunger and toward ending it does not stop because of COVID-19.
Fighting hunger is a priority for the Arlington County Board. The Board invests significantly in the Arlington Food Assistance Center and works with Arlington Public Schools on initiatives such as free school breakfasts and lunches. We have helped to reduce child hunger in Arlington, but must do more. Conducting quantitative studies of child hunger in Arlington will be vital to helping end food insecurity. Data collected from these studies will reveal when and where children are going hungry, and ensure that resources are allocated most efficiently. Additionally, Arlingtonians must work together as a community to tackle endemic food insecurity. Projects including AFAC’s Plot against Hunger, which works with local farmers and gardeners to distribute fresh produce, are essential tools in ensuring that Arlington’s children receive the nutrition they need.
Eliminating child hunger and food insecurity is possible. By stepping up our efforts and commitment to food assistance programs, tackling underlying issues such as affordable housing and poverty, and following a data-driven approach, we can and will work to end child hunger in Arlington.