New Report Shows Persistent Reach of Childhood Hunger

Sep 20, 2012

By Stephanie Schmit

Children who receive the basic necessities of life are more likely to be ready to learn once they enter school and subsequently able to be successful throughout school and in life. Unfortunately, far too many children grow up in poverty and lack the basic essentials, leaving them at-risk for long-term negative effects such as poor health and lower earnings as adults. Food is one of the many basic life essentials that far too many children go without.

More than 1 in 5 (22.4 percent) children are food insecure according to a new report from Feeding America. The corresponding map shows that some state level food insecurity rates are even higher than the overall rate. According to county level data, there is not a single county in the United States without hungry children; however, the rates vary tremendously.

These worrisome statistics have remained consistent over recent years, demanding attention to the impact that high levels of food insecurity have on children. Food insecurity can lead to malnutrition; greater susceptibility to infection; lack of cognitive, emotional, and physical skills necessary for school readiness; and poor school performance.

Many programs exist to help combat the negative effects that hunger has on children-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Nutrition Program for WomenInfants, and Children (WIC), school nutrition programs, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), among others. The issue is that not all children and families who are food insecure are enrolled in these programs and even for those who wish to be, they are not always eligible.

The bottom line is that policymakers can take a stand against childhood hunger by working to reduce barriers for families needing assistance and create policies that make programs and services easier to access. Additionally, stable investment in programs that fight childhood hunger will help to ensure that children's basic needs are met and children are able to thrive.  

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