Nearly 11 Million Kids Face Food Insecurity as Statistic Dips to 20-Year Low

Posted January 19, 2023, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A young girl smiles as she eats a red apple

In the Unit­ed States, the rate of food inse­cu­ri­ty among kids has hit a 20-year low, per new data report­ed in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter. From 20192021, 15% of kids10.6 mil­lion chil­dren total — lived in house­holds that lacked the con­sis­tent abil­i­ty to buy enough food.

Despite the sta­tis­tic trend­ing in the right direc­tion, hunger is still a harsh real­i­ty for near­ly 11 mil­lion chil­dren across the country.

Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies and Food Insecurity

Food inse­cu­ri­ty among chil­dren peaked in 20112013. Since the peak it has dropped sev­en per­cent­age points, reach­ing a low of 15% in 20192021.

Oth­er find­ings relat­ed to food inse­cu­ri­ty among kids and now avail­able include:

  • In Octo­ber 2022, high food costs con­tributed to 28% of house­holds going hun­gry nation­wide. While this sta­tis­tic has improved by sev­en per­cent­age points since spring 2022, it means that more than 1 in 4 fam­i­lies is still strug­gling to put enough food on the table.
  • In 11 states, the share of chil­dren that were not eat­ing because food was not afford­able hov­ered between 32% and 43%. Michi­gan had the high­est rate.
  • Exam­in­ing this same sta­tis­tic by race and eth­nic­i­ty for house­holds with kids: Only white fam­i­lies best­ed the nation­al aver­age, with high food costs con­tribut­ing to hunger 21% of the time. By com­par­i­son, 38% of Black fam­i­lies, 37% of Lati­no and mul­ti-race fam­i­lies and 31% of Asian fam­i­lies have report­ed fac­ing food inse­cu­ri­ty due to ris­ing food costs.

Tem­po­rary Relief: The Expand­ed Child Tax Credit

In 2021, law­mak­ers sig­nif­i­cant­ly expand­ed the Child Tax Cred­it via the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan. This move — which lift­ed an addi­tion­al 2.9 mil­lion kids out of pover­ty — saw fam­i­lies receive up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for each child between the ages of 617.

Since house­holds of col­or are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly more like­ly to expe­ri­ence eco­nom­ic insta­bil­i­ty, extend­ing the expand­ed Child Tax Cred­it was viewed by many as a pow­er­ful and proven way to pro­mote racial­ly equi­table out­comes among chil­dren and fam­i­lies nation­wide. How­ev­er, law­mak­ers let the expan­sion expire after one year, which means the cred­it will return to $2,000 per child in 2023.

The Toll of Hunger and Food Insecurity

Inad­e­quate food and nutri­tion pro­found­ly and neg­a­tive­ly impact a child’s phys­i­cal, men­tal and behav­ioral health and devel­op­ment. Food inse­cu­ri­ty caus­es fur­ther stress and poten­tial health issues for fam­i­lies as they often have to choose between pay­ing for food or pay­ing for oth­er neces­si­ties such as hous­ing, health care and utilities. 

Feed­ing Amer­i­ca, a lead­ing non­prof­it focused on hunger relief and research, has not­ed increased risk of food inse­cu­ri­ty among pop­u­la­tions of col­or. It reports the following:

  • Hunger and food inse­cu­ri­ty are con­sis­tent­ly more com­mon in some com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. For exam­ple, Black kids are almost three times as like­ly and Lati­no kids are near­ly twice as like­ly to expe­ri­ence hunger when com­pared to their white peers. 
  • One in four (24%) fam­i­lies head­ed by sin­gle moth­ers were food inse­cure in 2021
  • While fam­i­lies in all areas face hunger, rur­al com­mu­ni­ties tend to have high­er lev­els of hunger.

Feed­ing Amer­i­ca, the Casey Foun­da­tion and oth­ers also note that food inse­cu­ri­ty among pop­u­la­tions of col­or stems from long-stand­ing struc­tur­al and sys­temic inequities in soci­ety, which con­tribute to broad­er eco­nom­ic inse­cu­ri­ty for these pop­u­la­tions and can neg­a­tive­ly affect their health across gen­er­a­tions.

Resources on Food Inse­cu­ri­ty and Eco­nom­ic Insta­bil­i­ty in Amer­i­ca Today

Learn more about food inse­cu­ri­ty, whom it affects most, and pos­si­ble solu­tions with resources from the Casey Foundation.

KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter Resources

Addi­tion­al Resources

Stay con­nect­ed with the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter by email

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