Facts of Child Hunger in America

  • Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3 million of which are ages 5 and under.
  • According to the USDA, over 16 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2010.
  • 20% or more of the child population in 40 states and D.C. lived in food insecure households in 2009. The District of Columbia (32.3%) and Oregon (29.2%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.
  • In 2009, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are the District of Columbia, Oregon, Arizona, Arkansas, & Texas. iii
  • In 2009, the top five states with the lowest rate of food insecure children under 18 are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Maryland, & Massachusetts. iii
  • Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children. 62 percent of client households with children under the age of 18 reported participating in the National School Lunch Program, but only 14 percent reported having a child participate in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out.i
  • 54 percent of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).i
  • 32 percent of pantries, 42 percent of kitchens, and 18 percent of shelters in the Feeding America network reported "many more children in the summer" being served by their programs.i
  • In 2010, 16.4 million or approximately 22 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty.
  • Research indicates that hungry children have do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate.
  • In fiscal year 2009, 48 percent of all SNAP participants were children
  • During the 2010 federal fiscal year, 20.6 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, just 2.3 million of these same income-eligible children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that same year. 

i Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter, Z., Zhao. Mathematica Policy Research. Feeding America. Hunger in America 2010. February 2010.

ii Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States in 2010.

iii Feeding America. Gundersen, C., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., & Brown, J. Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011.

iv DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, B.D. Proctor, C.H. Lee. U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010. September 2011.

v Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on our Nation. Executive Summer. May 2009. 

vi Leftin, Joshua, Gothro, A., Eslami, E.. USDA, Office of Analysis, Nutrition and Evaluation. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2009, October 2010.

vii USDA, FNS. National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served. Data preliminary as of September 2011.


 By Nathan Deal

Childhood hunger is an invisible but very real problem not only in Georgia, but in every state. Although our country does not lack food, more than 16 million children can’t count on the nutritious meals they need to lead healthy, active lives.

In Georgia, more than 700,000 children are at risk of hunger. Hunger impairs their health and ability to learn, and predisposes them to emotional and behavioral difficulties that can negatively affect their families and our communities for years to come.

Although we have adequate child-nutrition programs to surround our most vulnerable children with nutritious meals at school, after school and in the summer, these programs reach only a fraction of the children who qualify for them. The problem is that we have for too long lacked big-picture strategies to overcome the barriers that keep children from getting the food they need.

It is our responsibility to make government work better for our children, but these programs are underutilized for various reasons — stigma, red tape, transportation challenges and systems — and are too often handled piecemeal by a confusing array of public and private agencies. The result: Hundreds of thousands of kids in Georgia grapple with hunger, especially after school and during summer when they don’t have access to food at school.

This past week, Georgia joined the ranks of 14 other states that have committed to ending childhood hunger with the launch of the Georgia Feeding for a Promising Future — No Kid Hungry Campaign. Our effort involves broad public-private partnerships and comes at a critical point given our current national economic climate.

Our campaign is designed to connect Georgia’s most vulnerable children with food where they live, learn and play. And it does so in a way that makes fiscal sense, leveraging private and public funds to ensure that more children have access to food programs.

The business community plays a key role in advancing these anti-hunger efforts. The ConAgra Foods Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, along with support from the Arby’s Foundation, are supporting efforts to help end childhood hunger in our state.

Increasing participation in the programs also increases the flow of previously authorized and appropriated funds to our communities. Through this innovative partnership, we are creating a coalition of officials and organizations that can help connect kids to child nutrition programs. By sharing resources, developing specific goals and timelines, allowing nonprofits and corporations to share their strengths, and implementing a strategic plan, we will build a campaign that can end child hunger.

Other campaign efforts include a nutrition education component that empowers families to help themselves through a cooking program. Families learn how to make healthy food choices and to get the most out of limited resources.

The fight against child hunger has long enjoyed bipartisan support, and I implore more government agencies and businesses to support No Kid Hungry efforts for the long-term future of our state and country.

Nathan Deal former governor of Georgia.

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