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  • Summer’s Out, School’s In: The Effects of Hunger on Learning (Blog) Sep 9, 2018

    Anita, a longtime patron of a Family Pathways food shelf, enjoys helping her neighbors. She drives her seven year old neightbor Dana to school. One...

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  • Family Pathways: 40 years of Hard, Dedicated Work (Blog) May 5, 2018

    Written by: Katrina Wiering It was a little over 40 years ago that a few concerned families came together to create an organization to help fix the...

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  • Cambridge ACT on Alzheimer's: Through my eyes (Blog) Apr 4, 2018

    Written by: Jayne Mund   In an effort to raise awareness, reduce the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease, educate our community and assist families who have...

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  • Minnesota Food Share, March Campaign (Blog) Feb 2, 2018

      Dear Editor:  Calling all hunger heros! Family Pathways invites everyone to join in the fight to end hunger. Family Pathways’ Food Shelves are...

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  • Donating Through Art (Blog) Jan 1, 2018

    By: Autumn Ruddy   “Giving the children a sense of ownership is what it’s all about,” says Cheryl Jaques, a volunteer at the Family Pathways Teen...

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Anita, a longtime patron of a Family Pathways food shelf, enjoys helping her neighbors. She drives her seven year old neightbor Dana to school. One morning Dana clutched her stomach and said her tummy hurt. Anita asked if she had been sick and Dana said no. She told Anita that she was so very hungry and that’s why her tummy hurt. She said, “If we had just a piece of bread even.” Anita knew that Dana had just lost her father, but didn’t know the family was in such trouble. She connected Dana’s mom to Family Pathways and the family now has access to healthy food options on a regular basis.

THE SITUATION

Many households in our area are cost burdened and the gap between their wages and living expenses continues to grow. According to a comprehensive housing study done in Chisago County, about 71% of renters with incomes below $35,000 are cost burdened and 56% of owners with incomes below $50,000 are cost burdened. After paying their rent, there is little left for utilities, food, clothing, medication, and other expenses.

Sadly, because of this trend, many children are attending school hungry. Over half of the students in Family Pathways’ service area qualify for free and reduced-price meal programs. And hunger has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children. Hungry children are sick more often, have more behavioral problems and their ability to perform well in school is compromised.

THE IMPACT

Being hungry makes it difficult for students to pay attention in the classroom and hard for them to focus on schoolwork. As a result, it’s difficult to learn new skills. Hunger also causes an increase in irritability and anxiousness which leads to misbehaving and interacting with classmates in a negative way. When food insecure children act out in the classroom, it impacts all students. The teacher’s focus is turned to dealing with behaviors rather than teaching expected grade-level subjects.

Tragically, children whose families lack reliable access to affordable and healthy food are more likely to repeat a grade and have lower general achievement test scores than their peers who do not suffer from hunger or malnourishment. They need to be able to concentrate in the classroom so they can succeed in school and be prepared to enter the workforce as adults. Our entire community is impacted when we have a group of children that are not able to live up to their potential. Childhood hunger affects us all.

THE RESPONSE

Since 2015, Family Pathways has made it a priority to have fresh and shelf-stable healthy foods available at all of our food shelf locations.

In 2017, over 2.87 million pounds of food was distributed and 28% of that was fresh produce.

In addition to regular food shelf visits, Family Pathways also provides supplemental food for families with school-aged children. Over the summer, additional food is available to help replace the breakfast and lunch that students receive during the school year. Family Pathways Backpack Program provides weekend food for youth in 19 area schools over the course of the school year.  This program is made possible through multiple funding partners and a host of volunteers who pack the bags weekly.

Join us in our work to ensure children in our region have the nutrition they need to power their brains and bodies.