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Numbers of Hungry Children Increasing In US

Kids Cafe is a community center that teaches children from low income homes and are at risk of going hungry how to prepare healthy meals -- for themselves and their families

President Barack Obama has pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015. Responding to that goal, anti-hunger organizations have produced a report that discusses the causes of childhood hunger in America and what can be done to improve the situation. The report says one in four children in America do not have access to healthy foods.

This is not a traditional cooking school. Its students are some of the youngest chefs in Washington.

"I think it's a very good class," says Sade Gray. She and her brother Dearjhe are students at Kids Cafe.

This free, six-week cooking class in a local community center is a big help for their mother, who is raising four children on her own.

"Trying to balance out four kids, trying to pay her rent, trying to do medical bills, trying to keep their clothing and food, it's hard," says Community center director Wanda Flibbonds. She adds these students come from low income homes and are at risk of going hungry every day.

Kids Cafe feeds them after school and teaches them how to prepare healthy meals - for themselves and their families.

"A lot of them here have to fix meals for their brothers and sisters that they have at home," Flibbonds explained.

Kids Cafe gets its ingredients from the Capital Area Food Bank.

From meats to milk to everything in between, this warehouse is stocked with food donated for families in need.

Jodi Balis is the food bank's nutritionist. "Food is oftentimes one of the first things to go because rent needs to be paid, for health care needs to be paid for," Balis said. "In low income neighborhoods fresh produce, healthier foods are less available simply because corner stores and convenience stores are where people are shopping."

Many low income communities, like Sade Gray's, have few grocery stores.

A report released by National Anti-Hunger Organizations finds nearly one in four children in America do not have access to healthy foods.

Nutritionists say children who don't eat right and are undernourished have a difficult time concentrating and tend to fall behind in school academically and socially.

These volunteers at the food bank are trying to help as many children as possible, but according to the report, the recession is making things worse. From 2007 to 2008, there was a 34 percent jump in the number of children at risk of hunger, because their families were not always able to provide daily meals. The report expects that number to rise.

On Capitol Hill, National Anti-Hunger Organizations asked lawmakers to end hunger.

They want the government to boost the economy so there are more jobs.

They are also asking the government to expand programs that provide free meals at schools, on weekends, and during the summer.

David Backmann with Bread for the World wants President Obama to be more active in ending childhood hunger. "We are not going to end childhood hunger by 2015 if the president of the United States is not mobilizing the whole nation," Backmann said.

Here at Kids Cafe, volunteers try to send these children home with a full stomach. It may be the only food they'll eat until morning.