One in Five U.S. Kids Lives in a Food Insecure Home

Posted August 16, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog oneinfivekidsfoodinsecure 2017

The every­day rit­u­al of putting meals on the table doesn’t take a sum­mer break — and it’s still a major con­cern for mil­lions of U.S. fam­i­lies, accord­ing to the most recent annu­al data avail­able in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

These data reveal that near­ly 15 mil­lion chil­dren — or 20% of all U.S. kids — live in house­holds that, at some point dur­ing 2014, lacked enough food for every­one in their home.

The per­cent­age of Amer­i­can chil­dren fac­ing food inse­cu­ri­ty rose dur­ing the recent reces­sion and recov­ery, peak­ing at 22% of the child pop­u­la­tion from 2009 to 2012. Though this nation­al rate is now declin­ing, it still sits three per­cent­age points above its pre-reces­sion low of 17%.

At the state lev­el, the rate at which chil­dren expe­ri­ence food inse­cu­ri­ty varies — and runs from a low of 13% in North Dako­ta to a high of 29% in Louisiana.

As kids head back to class, free and reduced school meal pro­grams will aim to fill in the gaps — and sat­is­fy the appetites of mil­lions of stu­dents across the country.

These pro­grams — includ­ing the Nation­al School Lunch Pro­gram, which served more than 73 mil­lion kids in 2016 — are crit­i­cal to help­ing all chil­dren suc­ceed. Insuf­fi­cient food intake is linked to host of con­se­quences for kids. For exam­ple: Com­pared to their well-fed class­mates, chil­dren who expe­ri­ence food inse­cu­ri­ty are more like­ly to be hos­pi­tal­ized, strug­gle aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and have chron­ic health prob­lems as well as high­er lev­els of anx­i­ety and depres­sion, accord­ing to research.

Get more eco­nom­ic well-being data — at the nation­al and state lev­el — by vis­it­ing the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

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