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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.
This New York Times article from April of this year ties in with our "Feeding the Need" coverage this week. Basically: food stamps keep economically disadvantaged families from starving and help get them out of poverty.