Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, talks with “Say Anything!” host Joy Behar about a United Nations study that promotes eating bugs as a way to improve food security.
Childhood hunger isn’t just a problem, it is an epidemic. Sadly, it is one that can and should be eradicated in our first world nation.
Despite our status as a global power, food insecurity is a reality in America for millions of children. The first step to defeating hunger is awareness.
Here are just a few of the things you might not have known about childhood hunger here in the United States.
- 16.2 million children live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.
- Food insecurity is most common in large cities, but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities — 25 percent of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure.
- The typical (median) food-secure household spent 27 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition.
- Children who face hunger are more susceptible to obesity and its harmful health consequences as children and as adults.
- 44.7 million Americans used Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on average per month during FY 2011. This is 4.4 million more participants than FY 2010. Almost half of these are children — 18.5 million American children received SNAP benefits on average each month of 2010.
- Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food to eat have significantly higher levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious.
- Low-income families view cost as the primary barrier to making healthy meals. Eighty-five percent of respondents to a Share Our Strength survey of low-income families said that healthy eating was important to their family.
- Among food-insecure households, 76.5 percent did not use a food pantry at all during the year; 27 percent said there wasn’t a pantry in their community; 15 percent said they didn’t know whether one was available.
- Undernourished children 0 to 3 years of age cannot learn as much, as fast or as well.
- Six out of seven low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer.
- Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often, recover more slowly and are more likely to be hospitalized.
- Teens who regularly do not get enough to eat are more likely to be suspended from school and have difficulty getting along with other kids.
- 27 million individuals — including 14 million children — received food from Feeding America food pantries in 2010.
- More than 20 million kids get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day. But only 9.8 million — fewer than half of those kids — get free or reduced-price school breakfast.
Watch Current TV Nov. 13-20 as we tackle hunger, obesity and nutrition in America during our "Feeding the Need" coverage.