Hunger Among Low-Income Households Rises Sharply
Feb 22, 2010
Feeding America, a network of local food banks, recently released its fifth comprehensive report tracking the state of hunger in the nation. The new report, Hunger in America 2010, presents a dismal assessment of the current landscape. Since 2005, there has been a 46 percent increase in the number of low-income people who receive aid from Feeding America's network of food banks and partner agencies. The network now provides food assistance to 37 million people, of which nearly 40 percent are children. About 3.2 million, or 9 percent, of people served by the network are young children under age five. Over half of the network's client households with infants and toddlers, ages 0-3, participate in the Special Supplemental Food Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Food banks and local charities can be an important resource to connect families to nutrition assistance programs.
Food nutrition programs, such as WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), provide a critical source of support for low-income families and help to ensure that young children receive the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. Children's HealthWatch has released two new policy briefs that highlight the positive impacts of both programs on young children:
- WIC Improves Child Health and School Readiness: This brief finds that children under age 3 who participate in WIC are more likely to be in good health compared to WIC-eligible children not in the program. In addition, the brief finds that WIC lowers the risk of developmental delays among young children.
- Child Care Feeding Programs Support Young Children's Healthy Development: This brief finds that children receiving meals through CACFP are less likely to be in poor health or to be hospitalized and more likely to have a healthy weight and height.
Federal nutrition programs, including WIC and CACFP, are up for reauthorization and need to be addressed in the coming year. The President's FY 2011 Budget recognizes the importance of these programs and proposes $10 billion in additional funding over ten years for reauthorization of the Child Nutrition programs, which includes WIC, CACFP, and the school lunch program. As the economic downturn continues to hurt the country's most vulnerable, it is more important than ever to ensure that these programs remain strong and reach young children who may have limited access to nutritious foods.