There is no possible excuse for children to go hungry in this country. Yet it happens – every day, in every community.
According to the latest estimates, as many as 13 million children in the United Stateslive 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.
The number of children living with hunger had fallen steadily over the past decade, but the coronavirus pandemic dealt a terrible blow to our progress as a nation – one that No Kid Hungry and other organizations will work to reverse during the long recovery ahead.
Poverty and Childhood Hunger
As you might imagine, hunger is a problem that most often affects children from 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 2021, the federal poverty level was $26,500 for a family of four. 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.
How many Americans live in poverty? 37 million, or 11.4% of all Americans, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 12 million of those were children. This number, though shockingly high for a country of such enormous wealth, had fallen in recent years, but the coronavirus pandemic put a huge burden on already-struggling families, and the impact of that is not yet fully known.
For a more comprehensive understanding of food insecurity, we recommend the USDA’s annual report on Household Food Security in the United States.