Children and Hunger
1 in 4 children live in food-insecure households in the U.S.
The problem of childhood hunger is not simply a moral issue. Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens.
A child who is unequipped to learn because of hunger and poverty is more likely to be poor as an adult. As such, the existence of childhood hunger in the United States threatens future American prosperity. In 2009, the USDA food reported that nationally, nearly one in four children is food insecure.
In Florida, 20.8 percent of children are experiencing food insecurity, according to new research released in July 2010 by Feeding America and funded by the ConAgra Foods Foundation, Feeding America’s Leadership Partner in the Fight to End Child Hunger. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008 reveals a 4.9 percent increase in Florida since last year, which ranks the state as having the 10th highest rate of food insecurity in the US for children under 18 years of age.
37% of the members of West Central Florida households served by Feeding America Tampa Bay are children under 18 years of age. 6% of the members of households are children 0 to 5 years. You can help fight childhood hunger in your community by directly supporting the Food Bank's Kids Cafe program.
More than 9 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 2 million of which are ages 5 and under, representing nearly 13 percent of all children under age 18 in the United States and over 72 percent of all children in poverty.[i]
According to the USDA, an estimated 12.4 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2007.[ii]
8 states plus DC have more than 20 percent of children living in food insecure households, the states of Texas (23.58%) and Mississippi (22.84%) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.[iii]
The top four states with the highest rate of food insecure children are Texas, Mississippi, Arizona, and New Mexico. [iii]
The top five states with the lowest rate of food insecure children are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Virginia, and Connecticut.[iii]
Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, particularly for low-income children. 62 percent of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program, but only 13 percent participated in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out.[i]
51 percent of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).[i]
Nearly 41 percent of emergency food providers in the Feeding America network reported "many more children in the summer" being served by their programs.[i]
Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families. In 2002, more than half of the nonelderly families that accessed a food pantry at least once during the year had children under the age of 18.[iv]
13.3 million or approximately 18 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty. The rate of poverty for children under 18 remains higher than those aged 18- to- 64 and for those aged 65 and over.[v]
Research indicates that even mild undernutrition experienced by young children during critical periods of growth impacts the behavior of children, their school performance, and their overall cognitive development.[vi]
In fiscal year 2007, 49% of food stamp recipients are children.[vii]
During the 2007 federal fiscal year, 17.9 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, just under 2 million of these same income-eligible children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that same year.[viii]
[i] Rhoda Cohen, M. Kim, and J. Ohls. Hunger In America 2006. Feeding America. February 2006.
[ii] Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2007.
[iii] Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2004-2006. November 2008.
[iv] Zedlewski, Sheila, S. Nelson. Snapshots of America's Families. November 2003.
[v] DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, B.D. Proctor, C.H. Lee. U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007. August 2008.
[vi] The Links Between Nutrition and Cognitive Development of Children, 1998, Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
[vii] Wolkwitz, Kari. USDA, Office of Analysis, Nutrition and Evaluation. Characteristics of Food Stamp Households: Fiscal Year 2007, September 2008.
[viii] USDA, FNS. National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served. Data as of October 2008.
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