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New state program aims to stop child hunger



HELENA – More than 48,000 children (21.8 percent) in Montana are at risk of hunger. That means more than one in five children live in families struggling to put food on the table.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer this February joined with America’s leading child anti-hunger organization, Share Our Strength, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and a diverse group of education, nonprofit and government leaders to launch Montana No Kid Hungry.

“Montana is a state known for growing the food that helps feed our nation,” Schweitzer said. “It’s time to make sure that all of Montana’s children have access to the food and basic nutrition they need to be healthy and to grow.”

Montana No Kid Hungry aims to increase awareness about federally funded nutrition programs, including the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Program. DPHHS oversees administration of these programs.

“Childhood hunger is a public health concern with serious consequences that can last a lifetime,” DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said.

Montanans can also connect to the programs, implementing outreach strategies to teach more families about SNAP, and offer nutrition education to help them learn how to cook affordable meals on a tight budget.

Share Our Strength has invested $145,000 with DPHHS to build the Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger that includes state and local level organizations. Montana is one of 18 states where Share Our Strength is partnering with state and local agencies, as well as community-based organizations to raise awareness about childhood hunger.

“Hunger is a reality often silenced because of shame and stigma,” said Michael McCormick, director of the Livingston Food Pantry. “In Livingston, our volunteers serve families and individuals who find themselves without enough food because of unemployment, low or fixed incomes, or unforeseen circumstances. It’s never easy for anyone to ask for food.”

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