Many years ago, my senior research project as a biology major at St. Joseph’s University focused on the relationship between hunger and brain development in infants and young children.
Profoundly moved by the incredible connection, I was blessed to work for 37 years at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services with programs that serve children and those in need with healthy, nutritious food locally, as well as globally through my involvement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
It is not enough for children to simply have access to food: they need the right kind of food with sufficient vitamins, minerals and protein to properly grow and develop. If children do not eat well in the first 1,000 days of life, they may never live up to their potential.
To address this situation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) works in over 100 countries to improve the outcomes of poor and vulnerable children and their families by improving their access to healthy foods.
Presently, CRS is working to have an even greater impact by coupling a healthy diet with early childhood development (ECD) interventions. New research has shown that incorporating ECD activities (such as helping caregivers to use mealtimes to bond with children) into U.S. government-funded food security and nutrition programs multiplies positive outcomes for children. Nutrition programs are more effective and impactful if they are combined with ECD.
Given the staggering need for assistance, you may be wondering, “What can I do to make a difference?”
One crucial step: Become familiar with the Global Child Thrive Act, an important piece of bipartisan legislation that is making its way through Congress.
The Global Child Thrive Act would integrate ECD and efforts to combat childhood malnutrition into existing relief efforts without requiring additional federal funding.
Be a voice for the voiceless, and encourage Senator Patrick Toomey to join the list of bi-partisan co-sponsors of this legislation — which is fiscally sound and good for national security, two of his top priorities.
Anne Ayella is the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103