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About 19,430 children in Washington D.C. experience food insecurity every day (Oliver, 2022). This is equivalent to 1 in 7 children in the area. According to WUSA, a news channel; food insecurity has been proven to lead to grave behavioral and emotional issues that can impair mental health and make it difficult for students to adjust to social situations (WUSA, 2017).We are excited to announce a new program that will help tackle food insecurity in public high schools in wards 7 & 8. The program’s name is DC Creating Overall Optimism in Kids (DC COOKs). The goal is to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to cook easy and nutritious meals, even if they do not have access to a grocery store. When teenagers face economic stressors like food insecurity, it can have a significant impact on their emotional and behavioral functioning. While the direct effects of food insecurity on adolescent growth are clear, it is also likely that these stressors work indirectly to affect psychosocial adjustment. It is important to address these issues and provide support to help adolescents navigate this challenge because the consequences of ignoring these struggles can lead to less energy for complex social interactions, inability to effectively adapt to environmental stress, feeling physically unwell, and possibly developing mental health disorders or chronic illness (Thomsen, 2021). By offering these cooking classes, students will be empowered and given the tools they need to make healthy choices which will improve their overall psychosocial well-being. Moreover, the program will reduce food insecurity in the home causing an improvement in teen psychosocial adjustment. Every student deserves access to healthy food, and this program will make it a reality.
Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health
Price, Robert; Murillo, Andrea; Whittington, David; Garrett, Jelani; and Ray, Jordan, "Who’s Hangry?: Food Insecurity and Psychosocial Adjustment in D.C. Teens" (2023). DC Health and Academic Prep Program (DC HAPP). 18.