The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) undertakes a prevention/awareness program each month related to the health and well-being of children and teens. March is National Nutrition Month.
It is considered neglectful to withhold access to food from a child, or to deny the right food that they may need in order to thrive. Neglecting a child by withholding or denying food can impact a child’s physical and emotional health, as well as their neurological responses and behaviors. Children who experience childhood neglect when it comes to food are more likely to struggle with an eating disorder later in their life.
Unfortunately, the term food insecurity has become common place these days. Due to the complications of the COVID-19, last year more than 11 million children in America lived in “food insecure” homes, a number which is projected to increase to 18 million this year.
In Florida alone, over a million children are facing food insecurity. Each year, the Feeding Florida network provides food to Floridians who are facing the challenges of hunger. If you, or someone you know, is struggling to provide food options for your family, please visit feedingflorida.org to find a list of all active food banks in Florida. Locally, in Okaloosa and Walton counties, the non-profit, Food For Thought, makes a major difference helping to fight hunger for area children and families. More information can be found on their website, fftfl.org
“ECCAC would like to help parents and grandparents learn more about making informed food choices and developing healthy eating with physical activity habits,” commented Nautica Caswell, who heads up the prevention department as ECCAC’s Community Outreach Program Manager. “They can visit eatright.org
to find out how to prepare healthy plates for children.”
With centers in Niceville and DeFuniak Springs, ECCAC has provided over 170,000 services at no cost to more than 15,000 children experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect to include mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals.
For further information, visit eccac.org
, or email or call Nautica Caswell at Nautica@eccac.org
, 850-833-9237, Ext. 267. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.