Food insecurity impacts people of all ages across the globe, but children are the most vulnerable. As many as 30 million students rely on school meals for a significant portion of their daily nutrition. Children require proper nutrition daily to not only survive but thrive in the classroom and beyond. Schools and nonprofits play a critical role in combating childhood hunger, but what happens during the holidays when schools close, children are home with their families and school-provided meals are no longer available for those 30 million children? Companies of all sizes have an opportunity and responsibility to help fill this gap and ensure that the holiday season is a time when the hearts and tummies of children are full.

When you think of school supplies, I’m sure you imagine the usual: pens, paper, pencils and clothing. However, many don’t consider the greatest school supply: food. Students who go to school hungry face an internal war. Without nourishment to help maintain a child’s inner peace, they experience turmoil that can lead to anger, embarrassment and even physical challenges like stomachaches and headaches. All of these factors get in the way of learning and participating in the classroom. In fact, a survey by No Kid Hungry found that 76% of teachers saw decreased academic performance among students facing hunger.

During the school year, families know their kids will be provided with lunch and, in some classrooms, breakfast. But the assurance of having two meals a day is influenced by the academic year. During weekends and holiday breaks, those in historically disadvantaged areas are left hungry and anxious about whether they’ll have another meal soon, further accelerating summer learning loss or the “holiday brain drain.”

With limited funds and bandwidth of school staff, schools shouldn’t and cannot shoulder the entire burden of making sure students have access to nutritious meals and snacks, regardless of the day of the week or time of year.

As companies examine ways to make an impact, it’s worth considering getting involved with these initiatives, even in a small but meaningful way. Our children are our future leaders and even your future employees, and now is the time to nourish them, feed their potential and set them up for success.

  • Explore your logistical prowess. If your business makes, moves, sells or distributes products, find ways to leverage that infrastructure to fill the gaps of local nonprofit organizations or schools.
  • Consider creating products that can be used for societal benefit. While we are fortunate to make products that put smiles on people’s faces, we use that same R&D process to create foods that address malnutrition and combat food insecurity.
  • Donate products or funds directly to nutrition programs and nonprofits. If manufacturing foods and beverages is your company’s expertise, donating products is a simple yet effective way to provide direct support.
  • Mobilize your greatest asset—your staff. Encourage your people to be a part of the solution by volunteering.

Read the full article about child hunger by C.D. Glin at Forbes.