Hunger exists in every county in Missouri.

This means we have a lot of households where at least one person is not getting an adequate amount of food each day. If you had to guess which member of a family is most likely to miss meals in order to ensure other family members have enough to eat, who do you think it would be? More often than not, it’s Mom.

The “Feast and Famine” coping strategy is common among low-income parents, especially mothers. When food is tight, these Moms will restrict their diet or neglect their nutritional needs entirely so their kids won’t go hungry. Then, when food is available, they tend to overeat on low-cost, calorie dense food. This behavior causes metabolic changes in their bodies which promote fat storage and puts them at risk for obesity and other serious health issues.

Of course, the moms aren’t thinking of the damage to their own health, because they’re operating from an instinctual impulse to do what is best for their kids.

In the long run, though, the children are adversely affected by the parent’s sacrifice. Studies have shown that parental obesity, especially maternal obesity is a strong predictor of childhood obesity.

There is a common assumption held even among intelligent people that a person cannot be hungry and overweight at the same time. The truth of the matter is, food insecure and low-income populations are especially vulnerable to obesity. This may help to explain why hunger is such a hidden problem. Hungry people may not look like we expect them to look.

We may not see these private acts of sacrifice in our communities, but they are happening every day. These choices are made with love, but they could have devastating implications for the future health of our state.

This Mother’s Day weekend, let’s honor the big and little sacrifices Mothers make by doing something that would make Mom very proud.

Donate today¬†and be a part of Feeding Missouri’s network of food banks, volunteers and supporters who believe that no one needs to go hungry.