Cooper University Health Care announced on May 18 that it received a $25,000 grant from No Kid Hungry, a campaign from the national nonprofit Share Our Strength, to help address childhood hunger and decrease food insecurity in young children.
No Kid Hungry has invested $3 million in grants to organizations focused on early childhood to help decrease food insecurity among children under the age of six.
“Cooper is proud to be a part of this initiative to support families in need in our community,” says Dr. April Douglass-Bright, division head, General Pediatrics at the Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper. “This grant will allow us to help meet the nutritional needs of our patients, which is crucial to good health.”
As one of the grant recipients, Cooper will use the funds to provide fresh produce to families in its current patient population who have children ages five and younger or those enrolled in a Head Start program. Along with the weekly produce distribution, participating families will qualify for supermarket shopping tours and nutrition classes along with supermarket gift cards. The grant will also cover transportation costs for Camden families to shop at full service stores located in the surrounding suburbs.
According to studies, at one point during the past year, 40 percent of parents of kids under six reported job or income loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1 in 5 parents reported food insecurity in their household. Early childhood is the most intensive period of brain and body development, and hunger and hardship at this age can have long-term implications for children.
The No Kid Hungry grants will serve more than 120 early child care centers, health care providers and community organizations. These organizations work with an estimated 170,000 children under the age of five in 34 states and the District of Columbia, including at Cooper University Health Care in Camden.
“Food insecurity in the early years can have an immediate and lasting impact on overall health, learning, school readiness, and behavior,” says Caron Gremont, director of early childhood for the No Kid Hungry campaign. “These flexible, year-long grants will help organizations provide healthy food to young kids and their families at this critical time.”