Hunger in America

In the world’s wealthiest nation, 16.7 million children are at risk of hunger. They live in households that lack the resources to provide the nutritious foods children need to thrive. These children can be found all across America, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report, “Household Food Security in the United States 2008,” many do not fit the image that many Americans have of hunger:

• Over half – 55.1 percent – of food-insecure famlies live in households with limited

incomes but above the poverty line.

• Nearly half – 48.6 percent – live in families headed by a married couple.

• Nearly one in six – 16.3 percent – live outside major metropolitan areas.

Child hunger is unacceptable. We have enough food. We need to ensure that all kids have access to the family and program resources that provide them adequate nutritious food.

While child hunger was a significant problem before the recession, the most recent food security data released November 2009 strongly indicates that the recession is making the problem worse. The percentage of children living in food-insecure households rose by 34 percent from 2007 to 2008. More households reported food insecurity in 2008 than in any year since USDA began the national food security survey in 1995. Separately, a five-city sample in a Children’s HealthWatch survey saw a more than 22 percent increase in food insecurity among low-income families with young children in 2008, the largest year-to-year change since 2001.

Other indicators support the concern about growing food insecurity. Increases in unemployment and poverty, and growing demand for food assistance in the last year strongly suggest that child food insecurity rates will continue to rise in 2009:

• Unemployment has risen into the double digits since the recession began in December 2007.

• Poverty among children has also risen. In 2008, the poverty rate among children reached 19 percent – the highest of any age group – and represented more than 14 million children, 744,000 more than in 2007.

• Demand for emergency food assistance has increased: Food banks reported, on average, a 30 percent increase in service demand between the summers of 2008 and 2009.

Excepted from Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger in America by 2015, presented by National Anti-Hunger Organizations (NAHO), December 2009

Ending Child Hunger Strengthens America

Over the past ten years, researchers have confirmed what educators, child caregivers and healthcare professionals know through observation: When children don’t get enough nutritious food, they fall behind physically, cognitively, academically, emotionally and socially. They, their families, communities and country suffer the life-long consequences of these reduced outcomes. Adults who experienced hunger as children have lower levels of educational and technical skills. Ill-prepared to perform effectively in today’s jobs, they create a workforce that is less competitive.

Ending childhood hunger will contribute significantly to solving many of America’s most pressing and long-lasting problems – healthcare, education, workforce competitiveness, and ultimately economic weakness. Ending childhood hunger in America will improve the health of its people while reducing short– and long-term healthcare costs, elevate the educational status of its people, and help the nation regain its workforce competitiveness and economic strength. By reversing consequences like those listed below, the benefits of ending child hunger will go far beyond individual children.

Excepted from Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger in America by 2015, presented by National Anti-Hunger Organizations (NAHO), December 2009