In the last few years, Butte County has been through traumatic events as a community. The impacts of natural disasters and a global pandemic have created greater strain on our community and the unhoused population and increased the price of food for everyone. Sadly, the children and families of the North State have been affected the most.
Homelessness and food insecurity has a greater impact for families than individuals. While a single person has only themselves to care for, parents have dependents relying on them for food and shelter. This is an increase in financial need and children are more vulnerable to the effects of unstable housing. When the complication of addiction is in the mix, it can lead to a generational cycle of poverty in our area.
Hear from Chief Programs Officer, Tim Hawkins, on how our Esplanade House and our programs help families heal, learn how to thrive, and break the cycle of generational poverty.
How Hunger Affects Children
Children are in the most important developing stages of life. Emotionally, they are learning who they are, how to make decisions and what healthy coping mechanisms look like. Unhealthy living environments can result in trauma that affects their social and emotional well-being. Physically, the first 3 years of a child’s life is the most important. Even when kids are older, food insecurity can result in anemia, asthma, depression, anxiety, and cognitive and behavioral problems.
According to Feeding America, in Butte County there were 8,510 food insecure children in 2019 with 35% being ineligible for food assistance benefits. According to their estimates, between 2019-2020 child food insecurity would increase by 27%, that’s 7% more than the overall food insecurity increase. Currently in California, 1 in 7 children is food insecure.
During the pandemic 37% of families had parents that skipped meals or had smaller portions so their kids could eat because they didn’t have enough money to adequately feed everyone.
Resources for Food Insecurity
The Effects Homelessness and Families
When a family is unhoused or has insecure housing, everything is thrown out of balance and stress is high for everyone. Children aren’t able to focus on being children and parents don’t have a stable foundation to build a life upon. When addiction is a part of their situation it only makes matters worse.
A child in a family experiencing homelessness and food insecurity is likely to be a parent in a similar situation. They grow up seeing how their parents handle stress and manage money and learn those habits. Even if the children disagree with them or know they cause poor outcomes, it’s all they know unless there is intervention. This is a simplified version of how the cycle of poverty continues.
How We Help Families Break the Cycle
When people come to our Esplanade House they are at a very low point. Children may no longer be with their parents because of addiction or unstable housing. Regardless, we suspend our judgement and focus on getting our residents in their homes so their recovery and learning can begin.
One of the 25 foundational classes we offer from financial literacy to coping with your anger to breaking the chains of trauma, is called Moral Reconation Therapy or MRT. This program changes a person’s perspective on life.
Oftentimes, people who struggle with being successful have a perspective that they're a victim and don't have control over what happens in their lives. This MRT program helps them to realize that they are in control and what goes on in their life and the things that happen to them are often a consequence of their choices.
Not only does MRT help people take responsibility for the bad choices that they've made, but it also helps people take responsibility for the good choices they're making. It turns somebody from that victim mentality where they don't have control to somebody who does have control over their life and control over their choices and control over where they're headed in the future.
The Effect on Children
As parents progress through our program and their recovery we see them reunited with their children. This is a happy first step in the family growing and healing as a unit. Truly, one of the joys of our Esplanade House is seeing the children come out of their shells and start to thrive.
Oftentimes, when kids come to our Esplanade House, they're broken and traumatized. Many have been separated from their parents for one reason or another. Some kids come in and they don't communicate or talk. But during the months that they're with us, you can see them start to reestablish that bond with their parents, settle in with that sense of security and really start to open up. Next thing you know they are laughing and playing with other kids. It’s special every time. Be sure to watch our video to hear more details about our programs and life at our Esplanade House, especially the fun we have around the holidays.
Thank you for joining us in the celebration of 30 Years of our Esplanade House breaking the generational cycles of poverty and addiction. If you would like to give to this important work in our community, please donate by clicking the link below