Wise parental support and an effective education delivery system will result in excellent report cards, well prepared high school graduates and a stronger economy, right?

All of that may be true if there's been good maternal and child nutrition. The first 1,000 days of each student's life, from pregnancy to age 2, are critical to brain development. The ability of an undernourished child to learn and work is much more likely to be diminished.

Globally, nearly 200 million chronically malnourished children suffer serious, often irreversible, physical and cognitive damage. For 2.5 million youngsters each year, malnutrition is a death sentence.

Our domestic programs, like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), must be protected.

And, this Saturday, June 8, at the first-ever Nutrition for Growth pledging meeting, the U.S. should pledge $450 million per year for three years. We've leveraged generous amounts from donor and developing countries, foundations, civil society and the private sector for other health initiatives. We can do that again.

All children deserve the chance to live, learn, and succeed. Let's help provide that opportunity.

Pat Behenna

Laurel