Child Hunger in Kansas

August 22, 2022 | By Child Care Aware of Kansas
How to Take Action Against Child Hunger in Kansas

By Martha Terhaar, Thriving Advocate, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Originally published in the Summer 2022 Issue of Kansas Child Magazine.

Even here in the breadbasket of the world, one in six Kansas kids experience food insecurity, meaning

nearly 125,000 children in Kansas do not know when their next meal will be.

With grocery costs continuing to rise and families forced to make tough decisions between food, affording child care, going to doctors’ appointments, paying rent and utilities, and more, Child Nutrition Programs offer critical support. Providers serve millions of meals to Kansas kids each year through programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), universal school lunch and breakfast, and summer meals.

Child Hunger in Kansas and Universal Free Meals

During the pandemic, the USDA implemented waivers so that school lunches and breakfasts could be served free of charge to every child regardless of their income. Kansas’s amazing school nutrition staff, child care providers, volunteers, and advocates are the reason universal free meals have been such a smashing success.

Despite the lifeline they’ve provided, pandemic child nutrition waivers are set to expire June 30, 2022. Parents, teachers, and school nutrition directors across the state and country have amplified a crystal clear message — universal free meals must continue.

All Kansas children deserve to thrive and live happy, healthy lives.

Access to affordable food is a basic necessity and a human right. Child Nutrition Programs boost Kansas kids’ well-being, behavior, and mental health while simultaneously providing caregivers and staff the capacity to invest in our youth without worrying whether their basic needs are being met.

The triumph of universal meals during the pandemic has shown that our country has the tools and resources to ensure that every child and every family has consistent and sustainable access to food. To be an anti-hunger champion and help achieve food security for all children, consider taking one of the following actions:

  • Collaborate with your school’s food service staff and/or other Child Nutrition Program sponsors to discuss what gaps they see in children’s nutrition and how you can support them.
  • Organize local parent and PTO groups to talk with your district’s school board about ways to increase access to food for every child in the county.
  • Call or email your federal legislators and urge them to extend the COVID-19 child nutrition waivers to improve access to school lunches and breakfasts.

Kansans know how to get things done, so let’s keep taking action against child hunger together.

Martha Terhaar, Thriving Advocate, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Based in Holcomb, Martha is an anti-hunger advocate with Kansas Appleseed, working to address hunger in southwest Kansas, particularly Stevens, Seward, Finney, Ford, and Grant counties. With strengths in active listening and community engagement, Martha loves collaborating to increase food security in Kansas.

Kansas Appleseed is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan policy advocacy organization dedicated to the belief that Kansans, working together, can build a more thriving, inclusive, and just state. To learn more, visit