Many Americans might be shocked to learn that in our wealthy nation, where there is so much food available in wastefully large portions, millions of children still go hungry every day.

Although the popular stereotype of a person using a soup kitchen is usually an adult man, America’s Second Harvest reports that one in five people in soup kitchen lines is a child.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that about 12 million children live in families not getting enough to eat, and that over three million children are regularly hungry. Millions more children live in families regularly forced to skip meals or cut back on food.

Who are these children? We all see them every day. They are black, brown, and white, and live in urban, suburban, and rural communities. A majority live in working families. A 1998 study found that more than one in three children in immigrant families were going hungry, forced to skip meals, cut the size of meals, or go without food a whole day.

Many immigrant children are U.S. citizens, but don’t receive food stamps or other benefits because their parents are immigrants. Black citizens are three times more likely to suffer food insecurity than other groups.

Hunger affects every area of a child’s life. A hungry child can’t concentrate or learn in school or have energy to play. All children need nutritious meals to grow and develop physically, intellectually, and emotionally. It is unnecessary and shameful that millions of children in the richest nation on earth are denied the basic right to enough food.

Hungry families are like the Taylors in Washington, D.C. Angela, a mother of three, has worked for the last 15 years and has never been on welfare. Her income as a childcare provider puts her one dollar above the requirement that would make her family eligible for food stamps.

As a result, when dinnertime comes every evening, Mrs. Taylor struggles to choose from the small selection in her cabinets and refrigerator – mainly beans, vegetables, and canned potato soup. Meat bought on sale at the supermarket gets rationed and stretched as far as possible, but by the end of the week it’s usually gone.

Mrs. Taylor spends most of her day working to care for and nurture other people’s children, but for her own children she still has to struggle to make sure they have enough to eat.

No parent should be in this situation in our country.

The Act to Leave No Child Behind (S-940/HR-1990), the comprehensive children’s bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and