Helping Children and Youth Heal from Food Insecurity

“It’s one thing to be safe, and it’s another thing to feel safe.” – Christa Jordan

You are likely doing everything you can think of to support the well-being of the child or youth in your home. But some of their behaviors may still baffle you, including how they act toward food and meals.

If you know, or wonder if this might be the case, it’s very important to remember to use your trauma lens, and to seek help. Some behaviors you might see include sneaking or hiding food, stuffing themselves, or not eating at mealtimes but eating alone at other times.

One way to use your trauma lens in a situation like this is to ask yourself what might be happening for the child, rather than immediately commenting on their behavior, or expecting it to change. Remember that their experience of food may have been very different from your experience, or the experiences of the other children in your home.
 

It’s important to have conversations with the child’s therapist about what you are seeing and ask for guidance, and, if they are in foster care, also talk with their FSD worker. You may also get ideas and support from other parents in a support group. If you are a kin caregiver, Vermont Kin as Parents (VKAP) https://www.vkap.org/ can offer ideas, and, if you’ve adopted, you could also work with a post-permanency worker at Easter Seals https://www.easterseals.com/vt/our-programs/permanency-services.html

Here are some additional resources for you:

Through this blogpost from The Forgotten Initiative, you can watch the video, “Understanding Food Trauma and Food Insecurity.” in which they interview adoptive parent and social worker, Christa Jordan. The post also includes additional resources. https://theforgotteninitiative.org/s10e5/

This article from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) offers more information about the what and why of food insecurity, stories of youth, and a wide variety of ways to help ease anxiety around food: https://nacac.org/resource/healing-from-food-insecurity/#:~:text=Serve%20meals%20and%20sit%2Ddown,fat%2C%20protein%2C%20and%20carbs.

Here are several resources from the Child Welfare Information Gateway to support healthy family nutrition: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/promoting/parenting/family-nutrition/

These Vermont Farm-to-School resources might be useful for you. They include a webinar on food justice, recipe sites for cooking with kids, and information about gardening around the state: https://vermontfarmtoschool.org/resources

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