KIDS IN AMERICA ARE HUNGRY
There is no possible excuse for children to go hungry in this country. Yet it happens - every day, in every community.
More than 11 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes. That phrase may sound mild, but it means that those households don't have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life.
POVERTY & HUNGER
1 in 7 children in the United States lives with hunger.
As you might imagine, hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families. A common way we measure poverty is the federal poverty level, a number set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The federal poverty level is the minimum amount of money a family needs each year to afford the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter and transportation.
In 2018, the federal poverty level was $25,750 for a family of four.
Tragically, a huge number of Americans fall below this line. Almost 40 million people (12% of all Americans) lived in poverty in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of that number, over 13 million were children.
Of course, this number is a minimum. Families making twice that much are still considered low-income by most experts, and many struggle to make ends meet.
More than 11 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That means those families don't have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life. This doesn't always mean that there is nothing to eat. But it can mean that children get smaller portions than they need, or parents aren't able to afford nutritious foods.
For a more comprehensive understanding of food insecurity, we recommend the USDA’s annual report on Household Food Security in the United States.
U.S. FOOD PROGRAMS
One of the most effective way to help families and children is through federal nutrition programs.
Some of the nutrition programs you may be familiar with are SNAP, WIC and the national school lunch program. These are critical lifelines for families in need. In 2016, 59% of food-insecure households reported participating in at least one of these programs during the previous month.
No Kid Hungry supports these important programs, though we focus our efforts on other federal food benefits programs that we know can make an enormous difference for hungry kids, such as the school breakfast program, the summer meals program and the afterschool meals program.
Making breakfast part of the regular school day, just like lunch, has a powerful effect on kids. That’s why we work with educators, political leaders and local nonprofits across the country to change the way schools serve breakfast.
22 million children in the United States rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school, and every one of them is eligible for free breakfast as well. But as many as 3 million children aren't getting the breakfast they need because of the way it's served in schools.
6 out of 7 hungry kids don't get the summer meals they need.
Millions of kids rely on school for regular meals. But in the summer, those meals disappear. Currently, the national summer meals programs reaches just 15 percent of the children who need help when school is out of session.
Love and Meals is helping community leaders with the funding and know-how they need to start summer meals sites, as well as advocating for needed changes to the national summer meals program.
Love and Meals also runs a texting service to help parents and caregivers find free summer meals sites in their neighborhood. To date, over one million families have used the service to find free meals for their children.
The afterschool meals program helps kids get the nutritious meals they need in a safe, supervised location after the school day ends. This program is the newest federal child nutrition program, so No Kid Hungry is working to ensure that more kids, families and teachers know about it and are able to take advantage of it.
The afterschool meals program is one of the fastest-growing meals programs in the country, but is still only reaching a fraction of kids in need. In 2017, schools served only 9% of the snacks and suppers kids need every day.
SNAP & WIC
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income families with money to purchase food. 20 million children in the United States rely on SNAP benefits.
SNAP is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs, as well as one of the most responsive, providing additional assistance to needy families during economic downturns and natural disasters. It’s also one of the most-needed: 45 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to buy food each month, according to the USDA. Two-thirds of these benefits go to households with children.
In addition to SNAP, one of the most important and effective federal nutrition programs is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC benefits are primarily for children under the age of five or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. WIC serves 53% of all infants born in the United States, according to the USDA.
7.7 million mothers and children relied on WIC benefits to buy food in 2016.
Through WIC, moms can get nutritious foods for their young children, as well as access to important services at WIC clinics, including nutrition education, counseling and referrals to local health and welfare agencies.