According to No Kid Hungry, one in seven children in the United States lives with hunger, and more than 11 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes. Food insecurity means “those families don’t have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life.” That can translate to smaller-than-needed portions or lack of access to nutritious foods to help kids grow healthy and strong.
In Virginia, one in eight (or 247,470) children lives with hunger, according to Feeding America.
The Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV) chose to focus on this critical need through an exploratory process known as the Issue-Based Community Impact. The JLNV began the process in 2012, establishing an ad hoc task force to solicit member feedback and begin research on key needs in the Northern Virginia area. The task force presented its findings at multiple stages throughout the process for further discussion with the membership before the organization voted to adopt combating childhood obesity as its focus area.
Examples of how JLNV has addressed this issue in the community:
- In April 2015, six JLNV members traveled to Richmond, Va., to represent the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV) at the fourth Weight of the State conference on childhood obesity. These members moderated panel discussions on the connections between childhood hunger and childhood obesity, creating healthy eating and active living communities, and the importance of community collaborations and partnerships.
- JLNV has provided in-community placements to local area coalitions such as the Arlington Healthy Community Action Team and Loudoun County Pediatric Obesity Coalition, the latter of which led to the creation of the Market Explorers program with Kids in the Kitchen at the Cascades Farmers Market.
- In addition to its own programs, such as Kids in the Kitchen, Swim Camp, Back2School Wellness Fairs and Spring Health Fairs, and more, the JLNV has provided thousands of dollars to area nonprofits to support additional activities in this arena, such as weekend food packs to ensure access to healthy meals, play equipment and running clubs to encourage physical activity, and educational programming to promote healthy habits.
Additional information regarding JLNV’s research and advocacy surrounding this topic can be found on JLNV’s Advocacy Initiative webpage.
For an interactive county-by-county map on food insecurity, visit FeedVa.org.
JLNV will be sending out monthly newsletters on topics of interest to our mission and focus area for the 2020-2021 League year. Stayed tuned to learn more about the JLNV, its history, and its impact in the months ahead. If there are any topics of interest you would like to see featured, please contact the Communications Council Director.