The end of summer is near and with the pending change in seasons, so begins a new year of school for local children. As these children begin the school day, most have had a good night’s sleep in their own bed and are fueled with a healthy, nutritious breakfast in their own home. For some South Carolina school-aged children, however, this is not reality.

Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, tracks the well-being of children in the United States. Data shows:

• South Carolina is ranked 26th nationally for child homelessness, with more than 18,000 children in the state living in an unstable home.
• South Carolina is ranked 45th nationally for children in poverty, with more 28 percent of the state’s population under the age of 18 living in poverty.
• 59 percent of South Carolina children live in low-income households where more than 30 percent of the monthly income is spent on housing costs. To qualify as affordable housing, a household cannot spend more than 30 percent of the monthly income on housing costs including rent, mortgage payments, insurance, and/or related expenses.
• Among South Carolina households, 90,000 adult and children reported skipping meals, going without food, and cutting the quality of their diet because they do not have the financial resources to purchase food. It is estimated that 28 percent of children live in households that were food insecure at some point during the year.

A stable home environment leads to productivity among school children. According to theCenter for Housing Policy, stable, affordable housing may reduce the frequency of unwanted moves that lead children to change schools and disrupt educational instruction; may reduce housing-related stress that leads to poor educational outcomes; and may support children’s educational achievement by reducing homelessness among families with children. Furthermore, affordable housing developments may function as a platform for educational improvements by providing a forum for residential-based after school programs.

Research also shows that a healthy diet leads to higher performance levels. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports food insecurities increase the risk for lower dietary quality and undernutrition, which can negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and school performance. Conversely, a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved emotional behaviors.

The SC Community Loan Fund is committed to creating a stable housing environment and ensuring access to healthy, affordable food for all of South Carolina, particularly our school-aged population. For more information on CLF’s lending programs, please contact Patrick King at patrick@sccommunityloanfund.org.