Hunger at Home: Crisis in America

FRESNO, Calif.

The lack of adequate food in parts of the Valley is even greater. Childhood hunger is becoming a generational problem in rural areas of the Valley.

Lucero Freitas and her young daughter wait patiently in line at Fresno's Butler Pentecostal Church for what they consider a food luxury.

Lucero said, "The vegetables and the fruit, my kids love fruit and vegetables, and right now they're expensive, you know and right now we don't have enough money to buy the food, you know."

Once a month the church has a regular food distribution with canned goods and nonperishable food items, but on the last Wednesday of the month, they hand out fresh produce. Many of the children cling to their box of blackberries.

Wanda Burrow, the Food Ministries Director said, "They like the fresh fruits and vegetables. You'd think they'd prefer the candy. But I think they prefer the fruits."

Map the Meal Gap... a study on child food insecurity was conducted by Feeding America... it breaks down food insecurity by congressional district. The 20th Congressional District, which includes parts of Fresno, Kings and Tulare County -- is America's second largest area of food insecurity. More than 40 percent of the children are malnourished or hungry.

Community Food Bank Director Andy Souza said, "Through systemic under nutrition and malnutrition, we're facing generational issues. Which is why we have the obesity issues, we have the diabetes issues."

Souza says in many cases, the only healthy food the children receive comes from food giveaways.

Many families who live rural Valley communities don't even have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and if they do, they're a lot more expensive than your local chain supermarket.

Years and years of under nutrition or malnutrition put Valley kids at risk over the long term. Souza says as the children grow up, there's a direct correlation between nutrition and educational scores.

As little as $10 can help feed a child for nearly an entire month. ABC News will launch a text-to-donate program for all inspired to help those in need. Text "FEED" (3333) to 50555 a $10 donation will be given to Feeding America, a leading domestic hunger relief organization, to help get food to children and families in communities across the country.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.