Food Insecurity Among Young Children In Immigrant Families
Feb 26, 2009
Young children in immigrant families are a growing and diverse population in the U.S. One in four children under age three live in an immigrant family with at least one foreign-born parent. It is, therefore, significant to find that infants and toddlers with immigrant parents experience higher levels of food insecurity compared to their counterparts with native-born parents. This means, these babies live in households with limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Infants with immigrant parents who have recently arrived in the United States or are limited English proficient (LEP) are most likely to face food insecurity. A new Child Trends brief finds the following:
- Nearly two in ten infants with immigrant parents (19 percent) lived in a food insecure household in 2001-02 compared to slightly over one in ten infants with native-born parents (11 percent).
- Infants with recently-arrived immigrant parents (those who have lived in the U.S. for less than 12 years) are more likely to face food insecurity compared to those with immigrant parents who have lived in the U.S. for a longer period (21 percent compared to 15 percent).
- Infants with LEP immigrant parents are more likely to face food insecurity compared to those with parents who are proficient in English (21 percent compared to 10 percent).
The vast majority of infants and toddlers with immigrant parents are U.S.-born citizens and eligible for federal assistance including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). However, issues of fear permeate immigrant communities and prevent even legal noncitizens from accessing benefits for their citizen children. Given the large and growing number of infants and toddlers with immigrant parents, states should work to ensure that families understand immigrant eligibility for federal benefits and work with trusted messengers, including community-based organizations, to connect families to nutrition assistance programs. Early care and education settings offering comprehensive health services, including Early Head Start, may also link vulnerable babies to needed assistance. Good health during the earliest years of life is essential for the development of healthy foundations for children s health, behavior, and learning.