Issues

The Claretian Initiative’s programs are designed by Claretians and other community leaders to meet the specific needs of the people they serve. Because they live in the community as neighbors, the Claretians have a unique insight into the issues impacting each neighborhood’s children, teens, adults, and elders. But the Claretians don’t stop there.

 

They combine their unique, first-hand knowledge with thorough, current research on issues such as education, mentoring, and violence prevention to make sure their community development programs follow the best practices recommended by researchers and thought leaders.

 

Learn more about the areas tCI’s programs address with our issue white papers.

Program Areas of tCI

Impact of Nutrition Program

An astounding 15% of American households are classified as food insecure. Food insecurity encompasses several stages of hunger, from “not full enough to concentrate” to “seriously altered behavior and mental state.” This grim reality jeopardizes the developmental, emotional, educational, and social health of children and teenagers in these at-risk families. Members of these families are regularly uncertain of having enough nutritious food. Those living with the most extreme cases of inadequate nutrition often run out of food before they are able to purchase more, cut the size of or skip meals, and occasionally go entire days without eating.

 

Poor nutrition decreases a student’s ability to succeed in the classroom, further widening the education achievement gap. In addition to suffering from a range of side-effects such as dizziness and fatigue, students with inadequate nutrition are also more susceptible to frequent illnesses. This reality adds chronic absenteeism and tardiness to the students’ load of academic challenges.

 

While the biological effects of malnutrition are extremely damaging, the condition’s less obvious psychological and social consequences are equally detrimental to a student’s academic performance. Undernourished children are more likely to have lower test scores and a higher incidence of counseling and enrollment in special education classes. These students are also more likely to have repeated a grade in school.

 

Beyond its harmful effects on academic achievement, inadequate nutrition contributes in other ways to the disruption of meaningful community development. Poor nutrition impacts brain development and behavioral patterns—often impairing the parts of our brains that govern and moderate aggressive behavior.  Malnourished children are seven times more likely than their well-nourished peers to display aggression and anxiety issues. And teenagers from at-risk households are more likely to report lingering thoughts of death or to have attempted suicide.

 

Religious organizations already deeply rooted in and trusted by local communities are ideally situated to affect real change in the lives of those lacking enough nutritious food to thrive. Though the U.S. government has existing programs aimed at reducing food insecurity, many at-risk families do not use these programs because they are confused about eligibility, embarrassed about receiving benefits, and have had negative or fearful experiences with government agencies. Local religious leaders like the Claretians are uniquely positioned to eliminate poor nutrition in at-risk neighborhoods as one way of building and maintaining healthy communities.

Read more about tCI’s influence through Nutrition programs on our What’s New page.