The PB &J Fund works to address food insecurity and childhood obesity hand in hand. The connection between food insecurity and obesity might seem unlikely, however lack of access to healthy and affordable foods bind the two together.
Food insecurity is defined as: the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, including involuntarily cutting back on meals, food portions or not knowing the source of the next meal. Also known as “at risk of hunger”. Includes categories of “low” and “very low” food security, indicating degrees to which food intake is reduced or normal eating patterns disrupted because of lack of money and other resources for food.—Share Our Strength
Many families in our area are at risk of being food insecure. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s 2010 Hunger Survey of the Thomas Jefferson Planning region (Charlottesville and Albemarle) found:
- 84% of clients classified as food insecure had children
- Of those clients, 37% were classified as having very low food security
In the 2010-2011 school year, 54% (2,152 of 3,998 students) of Charlottesville City students qualified for a free or reduced lunch. (Virginia Department of Education, published January 31, 2011.)
Currently, to be eligible for a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program, a family of four must earn at or below 130% of the poverty line which is $28,655. In order to receive a reduced price lunch, a family of four must earn between 130 and 185% of the poverty line, which is $40,793.(United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Program Overview, August 2009)
In the Charlottesville City School system, rates of free and reduced lunch exceed the state average by roughly 16%, and three of our schools have more than 70% of students who qualify for a free and reduced lunch according to national standards. Many children rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition, but these meals aren’t offered during the holidays or outside of school hours. The PB &J Fund works to help fill in those gaps with nutritious food and education.
A glimpse at how we do that. Some of our numbers from last school year include:
- 51: Cooking classes offered at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia.
- 5,000: shelf stable meals packed in over 300 bags for Charlottesville City Schools’ elementary school students on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program before their winter break.
- 2,262: healthy lunches provided to moms and their pre-school aged children living in Charlottesville housing communities through Children, Youth and Family Services Play Partners program.
- 8: Market to Meal Events at Charlottesville City schools. With 1,328: dinners provided at those events.
- 116: volunteers leveraged to make this happen: ranging from elementary students to culinary professionals.