NCLR and National Leaders Outline Solutions to Hunger and Obesity Among Latino Children




November 16 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2010

Contact:
Kara Ryan
Sherria Cotton
(202) 785-1670


Washington, DC—According to data released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for the third year in a row Latinos make up the largest share (38.2%) of American children living with hunger. In a seemingly contradictory trend, they are also experiencing record levels of childhood obesity. A lack of available resources for families to purchase and prepare healthy food has remained one of the most serious barriers to Hispanic children’s good nutrition and is a driving factor in both child hunger and obesity trends. Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza)—the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—joined national partners and community-based organizations at a press briefing to promote promising practices and policies that can help turn the tide on child hunger and obesity and improve access to nutritious foods for Hispanic children and families.

“NCLR is proud to stand with our Affiliates and community leaders as well as national partners, including USDA and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, to call for comprehensive solutions that foster an environment where healthy food is affordable and accessible to Latino families,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

Today’s press briefing marked the conclusion of NCLR’s 12-part weekly research series, Profiles of Latino Health: A Closer Look at Latino Child Nutrition, which examined critical factors affecting Latino children’s nutrition, including trends in hunger and obesity, as well as family access to healthy foods and other resources that play important roles in children’s nutritional outcomes. Addressing underlying social and economic factors that prevent Hispanic families from consistently accessing affordable, nutritious foods will be a key strategy in the battle to improve children’s future health.
“Children with poor nutrition—who deal with either hunger at home or misbalanced diets that end up in weight gain and obesity—are at greater risk for developmental problems and chronic disease. In our experience at Mary’s Center, they are also the children more likely to fall behind in school, which seriously impacts their capacity to succeed later on in life,” said Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, who hosted the briefing.

As the latest data from USDA show, more than one in three (34.9%) Hispanic children live in food-insecure households, meaning that the household had difficulty at some time during the year with providing enough food for all of its members due to a lack of resources. Latino families often have to spend more time and money seeking healthy foods or prepare less nutritious items that are available closer to home. Improving access to federal nutrition programs, which are shown to improve children’s food security and nutritional intake, is essential to the strategy, along with investing in community-based solutions to connect families with the programs and resources that help them make healthy choices for their children.
“Improving the nutrition and health of all Americans—especially children—is a high priority for the Obama administration because no one in this country should go hungry. Our partners, like NCLR, are critical in the fight against hunger because they are on the front lines helping us reach those in need,” said Lisa Pino, Deputy Administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Also present at the briefing was Brenda Alvarado, 17, a local high school student and patient of Mary’s Center. Alvarado described how access to health care and nutrition counseling, together with the support of her parents, has helped her better manage her weight and cholesterol levels. She and her younger twin sisters have also been served by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which has been a vital source of nutritious food for their family in hard economic times.

Alvarado is one of more than 16 million Hispanic children living in the U.S. Currently making up more than one in five children in the U.S., Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the child population and are expected to represent nearly one in three children by 2030.

As a prelude to the briefing, Mary’s Center joined with ARAMARK dietitians and culinary professionals to provide a healthy breakfast and cooking demonstrations for Latino parents and children. Prepared entirely with foods approved by the WIC program, this breakfast is part of an ongoing partnership between the two organizations to improve community health through nutrition and wellness education. WIC staff were also on site to provide families with information about program participation.

“Making sure that our children eat nutritious meals and live in healthy communities will not only improve their immediate health, but ensure a better future for all Americans,” concluded Murguía.

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Issues: Health Care Reform
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas