The following isadapted from Feeding America's 2009 comprehensive study of hunger in America published in the report Hunger in America 2010:
The problem of childhood hunger is not simply a moral issue. Child hunger hampers a young person's ability to learn and becomes more likely to suffer from poverty as an adult. Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens.
Feeding America addresses child hunger through two national programs:
- Kids Café
- BackPack Program
The Food Bank for Westchester conducts both these programs in the county to make sure food insecure children do not go hungry.
Facts of child hunger in America
- Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3 million of which are ages 5 and under.
- According to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009.
- 20% or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008.
- The top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi, as well as the District of Columbia
- Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, particularly for low-income children. 62 percent of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program, but only 14 percent participated in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out.
- 54 percent of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- 32 percent of pantries, 42 percent of kitchens, and 18 percent of shelters in the Feeding America network reported "many more children in the summer" being served by their programs.
- Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families. In 2002, more than half of the nonelderly families that accessed a food pantry at least once during the year had children under the age of 18.
- 15.5 million or approximately 20.7 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty.
- Research indicates that even mild undernutrition experienced by young children during critical periods of growth impacts the behavior of children, their school performance, and their overall cognitive development.
- In fiscal year 2009, 48 percent of all SNAP participants were children.
- During the 2009 federal fiscal year, 19.5 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, just 2.2 million of these same income-eligible children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that same year.