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Children's nutrition program expanding in Michigan

Apr 8, 2016

The state of Michigan is getting nearly $7 million from the federal government to expand a nutrition program for children.

Children in Flint enjoy breakfast as part of a federally funded nutrition program
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Today, dozens of children in Flint ate breakfast at the Haskell Youth Center, thanks to a federal child nutrition program. But the program hasn’t operated during the summer, until this year.

Kevin Concannon is the undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He says a special pilot program is being expanded, that will provide 16,000 Flint children with nutritious meals during the summer months too.

“Good nutrition is of paramount importance to children everywhere, but especially in Flint, who’ve been impacted by the water crisis,” says Concannon.

Young children are especially at risk for health problems when exposed to high levels of lead. During the 18 months the city of Flint depended on the Flint River as its primary drinking water source, children’s blood lead levels rose.  Lead is still being detected in the blood of Flint children. 

Exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in young children. Some healthy foods can help address effects of lead exposure.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says this program will help young people feel there is “opportunity for the future.”

Statewide, more than 83,000 children will benefit from the program.