Food insecurity growing problem in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Food insecurity growing problem in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - It's dinner time, but for many local kids, tonight's meal will not provide the kind of food they need. That's the focus of our Kids in Need report.

Recently, we launched this series to raise awareness of the issues local children face.  Food insecurity is one of those issues.   There's a difference between that and hunger. 

Food insecurity is when people lack the resources to access enough nutritious food to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Here's more about that: in Wisconsin, if you take all of the households that have children, about one in five is food insecure.

"Basically there is a food access problem. So maybe I can get enough food, but I can't afford food that's really healthy for me. Maybe I'm eating ramen noodles and mac and cheese and rice, because that's all I can afford," says Nancy Coffey, WI nutrition education program coordinator.

If children cannot get the kind of food their growing bodies need most, what can happen next is a domino effect with serious consequences. 

"They tend to have decreased cognitive development, and you can imagine, if I'm hungry it's hard to think. The other is increased emotional and behavioral issues," says Coffey.

Because of that, children perform worse in school, and miss school more often, in many cases, due to illness from poor nutrition.

"Food security is such an issue that we really needed to help people key in on that one area of making sure there was enough food for people to access," says Coffey.

Many families that are eligible for help are unaware of what resources are available.  That led to the creation of Eau Claire County's food resource map, a list that shows where to find hot meals for those in need, food pantries and vouchers for groceries.

"We realize that most people are not going to be in need most of their lives it will be a short time that you might need this help and please take it."

These food resource maps can be found in all county offices, as well as on city buses, and starting in may, maps will be available at all schools in the Eau Claire Area School District.

We're also posting these maps on our website, just click on the kids in need banner on our homepage.

We want to remind everyone, we're going to cover a range of topics through our on-going kids in need effort.

So, if you have ideas, let us know.  E-mail us at news@wqow.com.

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