One in Four Young Children Live at Risk of Hunger in
24.1 % of Children under the Age of Five Are Food Insecure
Winston-Salem, NC – May 12, 2009 – One in four young children live on the brink of hunger in North Carolina, according to a new report issued recently by Feeding America.
Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 – 2007, states that 3.5 million American children, ages five and under, are food insecure.
The analysis includes the first ever state-by-state analysis of early childhood hunger, using data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The report, funded with a grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation, also found that food insecurity among all children (persons less than 18 years of age) stayed about the same in North Carolina, when compared to USDA data collected between 2003 and 2005.
More than 422,000 children in North Carolina are food insecure – unable to consistently access adequate amounts of nutritious food that is necessary for a healthy life.
“The first three years of life are the most critical period of brain growth and development. Child hunger causes physical and mental impairment that may never be reversed,” said researcher John Cook, Ph.D., of the Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, a nationally-recognized expert on child hunger, who conducted the analysis. ”Child hunger also creates tremendous costs that are completely unavoidable. There is no better investment in a prosperous future than investing in ending childhood hunger.”
“Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC has been very active for many years in addressing the serious and growing problem of childhood hunger,” said Clyde Fitzgerald, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. “Our Kids Cafe programs in urban areas and our BackPack programs in rural areas are very effective in combating childhood hunger. However, many more such programs are needed to address this crucial issue on a wide-spread basis. We need financial and volunteer support from the communities we serve if these alarming trends are to be reversed. Importantly, children account for nearly 35% of the clients of our partner agencies. These children benefit from our core Food Distribution Program, which provides nearly 9 million pounds of nutritious food and grocery products (the equivalent of 7.5 million meals) to our partner agency network across our service area.”
“The startling fact that so many very young children in this country do not have adequate nutrition necessary to grow and develop into healthy adults is heartbreaking. It is all the more tragic when one considers that it is also entirely preventable,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “We know that a child who is hungry and cannot learn becomes a man or woman who cannot earn.”
Fitzgerald added, “Even one hungry child is too many. The dismal ranking of our state regarding childhood hunger is totally unacceptable to all who are allied in feeding our hungry neighbors. I would hope that all citizens of North Carolina would agree that we must join together –right now – to ensure that our children are well-fed. Each one of us needs to be an advocate for these children. Hunger is a solvable problem. We need everyone to be part of the solution through advocacy and the donation of food and money.”
The states with the highest rates of food insecure children under 5 years of age are:
The states with the highest rates of food insecure children under the age of 18 are:
Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 – 2007, analyzes data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) over a three-year period. The USDA has collected data on domestic food insecurity since 1995, but has not analyzed it to determine the specific number of children living in food insecure households by state.
The state-by-state study was sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation, as part of its “Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow” program which focused on child hunger and nutrition education. ConAgra Foods is a major donor to Feeding America, whose network of food banks and food-rescue organizations serves 25 million Americans every year.
The ConAgra Foods Foundation program is the largest corporate initiative solely dedicated to fighting hunger through Feeding America. ConAgra Foods has contributed more than $20 million in funding to the organization since 1999. The ConAgra Foods Foundation also granted 167 trucks to member food banks in order to help with the transportation of donated food. They have provided grants to open 257 Kid’s Cafes, which are after-school programs that offer food and a safe haven for children in need nationwide.
The report is available at www.feedingamerica.org