Giving Kids a Head Start Through Nutrition Education

8 year old boy and 6 year old girl eating an apple before heading to school
8 year old boy and 6 year old girl eating an apple before heading to school

If you want to make a difference in the lives of our nation's most vulnerable kids, partner with the National Head Start Association. Head Start takes a holistic approach to early childhood and school readiness, providing health, nutrition and social services to more than 1 million kids and their families. Share Our Strength just announced such a partnership to bring our interactive grocery store tour, Cooking Matters at the Store, to 10,000 Head Start parents this year.

Cooking Matters at the Store is a critical component of our No Kid Hungry campaign. Hunger in America is a solvable problem. This is not Syria or Sudan or sequestration. Children are not hungry because of a lack of food or a lack of food programs, but because they lack of access. For example, twenty-one million children get a free or reduced price school lunch and all 21 million are also eligible for breakfast, but only 11 million get it. What does that tell you? It says that these children are not only vulnerable but voiceless.

Teaching smart grocery shopping is one of the No Kid Hungry campaign's strategies to connect kids at risk of hunger to the healthy food they need every day. It all starts with the cart -- with a few key shopping skills like comparing unit prices and reading food labels, parents can stretch their food dollars, get more from their federal benefits and make healthier meals for their kids.

Cooking Matters at the Store tours teach those skills in a fun way where everyone learns from each other. At the end of the tour, participants have $10 to buy food for a healthy meal for a family of four. What seems impossible when families walk into the store becomes a reality time and time again in the checkout line.

While there are investments some think our country can't afford to make, we actually can't afford not to make them when it comes to the education of our children. Share Our Strength and the National Head Start Association know that investing in the health of a child from day one can positively impact their entire life.

We can't have a strong America with weak kids. We can't have a healthy economy with unhealthy kids. We can't have an America prepared to compete in the world without children prepared to learn.

As the writer James Baldwin said, "These are all our children and we shall profit by or pay for whatever they become." Let's make sure that what they become is smart, and kind, and healthy, and wise, and that America does too.