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2131 Beaufait Street
Detroit, MI, 48207
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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

2012 State of the Detroit Child


SAM_0031The Skillman Foundation and Data Driven Detroit (D3) published an annual comprehensive data view of Detroit’s children in 2012 entitled the Detroit Child Report.  This report is a tool to glean valuable information about the state of our city’s youth.  We encourage you to read the full report, but in case you don’t have time, we have included highlights on the state of poverty and diet in Detroit’s youth:

  • The percent of children and youth in poverty increased from 34.8 percent in 1999 to 57.3 percent in 2011.
  • When adjusted to 2011 dollars, median household income in Detroit decreased by more than a third (36.8 percent) between 1999 and 2011.
  • Children increasingly live in single parent family households. In 2010, nearly 3 out of 5 households with children (59.3 percent) were headed by a single female.
  • Nearly one in four Detroit households has no access to a vehicle.
  • Students in families at 135% of the poverty line qualify for free lunch; families at 185% of the poverty line quality for reduced price lunch. The share of Detroit students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch has never dipped below 60% and has risen steadily since the start of the recession in 2007 to a high of 82.5% today.
    • Recognizing this fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made Detroit Public Schools a pilot district in fall 2011 for a program to provide all students, not just those who qualify, with free meals.
  • Though an increasing number of students attended physical education classes, the percentage of DPS high school students who are overweight increased slightly over the last decade (with a high of 22.7 percent).
    • The percent of students who watched television for more than 3 hours has declined since 2005 (with a low of 44.4 percent in 2011). However, as children increasingly turn to computers and other mobile media platforms for entertainment, the decline in television viewership rates is to be expected and does not translate to more time exercising, reading, or other healthier pursuits.
  • The weekly diets of DPS high schoolers have improved in the last ten years.
    • Students reported eating more fruits and vegetables in 2011 than in previous years.
      • Even with this improvement in healthy eating habits, over 20 percent of students had not eaten fruits or vegetables within a week of taking the survey.
    • The importance of healthy eating habits is well understood by the DPS Office of School Nutrition, which has initiated the Farm to School program, currently offered at every school.
      • Each month local farmers are identified to deliver fresh fruits and/or vegetables to each school in an effort to support Michigan-based farmers and increase student exposure to fresh foods.
        • In addition, the program delivers educational opportunities in the cafeteria, classroom visits by local farmers, and school garden opportunities.

It is clear that there is much work to be done here in Detroit, but there are glimmers of hope and progress amid what may feel like a sea of overwhelming obstacles.  As you know, Cooking Matters seeks to empower families with the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to eat healthy on a tight budget.  As part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, it is one of our primary goals to see the diets of children improve.  Whether this is done by educating parents to feed their children healthier foods through a Cooking Matters for Adults course, or teaching kids and teens to try healthy foods and prepare them on their own in a Cooking Matters for Teens/Kids class, we are deeply invested in this issue.

For the full report, visit: Data Driven Detroit