Survey Reports at Least 5.6 Million U.S. Households With Children Are Struggling to Afford Food

Regional coordinator Charles Evans (4th L) picks up children from school to take them to an after-school program at South Los Angeles Learning Center in Los Angeles, California March 16, 2011. The center is run by School on Wheels, which uses volunteers to tutor homeless children in shelters, parks, motels, and two centers. There has been a surge in the number of homeless children in Los Angeles in the last five years, due to persistent unemployment and mounting foreclosures. | (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Fewer than half of households with kids in the U.S. are “very confident” they can afford food over the next four weeks while 5.6 million households with children reported struggling to afford food in the last seven days, according to new Census survey data.

Joseph Llobrera, director of research at The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute, said unless policymakers immediately provide strong economic relief, “widespread food hardship that continues into the holiday season appears likely.”

“Delay can be costly, as food insecurity among children can have long-lasting negative consequences. For infants and young children, the lack of access to good nutrition can lead directly to poorer lifelong outcomes. School-aged children who don’t get enough to eat may have more difficulty learning in school, which can translate to lower high school completion rates and lower earnings potential,” Llobrera wrote in a recent blog post.

“While the risk is greatest for children who chronically lack sufficient food, the shock of becoming food insecure may itself affect children’s behavior, and living in a household that’s even temporarily food insecure is linked with negative development among toddlers.”

The data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau Aug. 19 through Oct. 26, show that in the United States, 12% of households with children reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days. Some 9% of households with children reported that they are “not at all confident” that they will be able to afford the kinds of food they need for the next four weeks while 56% reported that they are less than “very confident.” This means they are only “moderately,” “somewhat,” or “not at all” confident that they will be able to be able to afford the kinds of food they need for the next four weeks.

The data also showed that amid the pandemic, households aren’t just worried about food.

“More than 4 in 10 children live in households that are struggling to cover such basic costs as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans,” Llobrera said, pointing to negative outcomes associated with the psychological impact of multiple stressors on households.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair