Children and Hunger
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.[i] Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.
We address child hunger through two national programs:
Back Pack Program
- 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households in 2012.[ii]
- 20% or more of the child population in 37 states and D.C. lived in food insecure households in 2011, according to the most recent data available. New Mexico (30.6%) and the District of Columbia (30.0%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.[iii]
- In 2011, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Oregon, and Georgia.[iv]
- In 2011, the top five states with the lowest rate of food insecure children under 18 are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Minnesota.[v]
Emergency Food Assistance
- Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3 million of which are ages 5 and under.[vi]
- Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children. 62 percent of client households with children under the age of 18 reported participating in the National School Lunch Program, but only 14 percent reported having a child participate in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out.[vii]
- 54 percent of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).[viii]
- 32 percent of pantries, 42 percent of kitchens, and 18 percent of shelters in the Feeding America network reported "many more children in the summer" being served by their programs.[ix]
- In 2012, 16.1 million or approximately 22 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty.[x]
Participation in Federal Nutrition Programs
- In fiscal year 2011, 47 percent of all SNAP households contained children.[xi]
- During the 2012 federal fiscal year, more than 31 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals daily through the National School Lunch Program.[xii] Unfortunately, in 2012 less than 2.5 million children participated daily in the Summer Food Service Program.[xiii]
Gundersen, C., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., Satoh, A., & Chawla, N. (2013). Map the Meal Gap 2013, Feeding America.
Mabli, J., Cohen, R., Potter, F., Zhao, Z. (2010). Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.