Child Hunger Facts

Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 13.1 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.[i] Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.

Food Insecurity

In fiscal year 2014, more than 20 million or 44 percent of all SNAP participants were children under age 18.
— Feeding America
  • 13.1 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2015.
  • Twenty percent or more of the child population in 30 states and D.C. lived in food-insecure households in 2014, according to the most recent data available. Mississippi (27%) and New Mexico (27%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.
  • In 2014, the top five states with the highest rate of food-insecure children under 18 were Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and Arkansas.
  • In 2014, the top five states with the lowest rate of food-insecure children under 18 were North Dakota, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

Charitable Food Assistance

  • Twelve million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3.5 million of whom are ages 5 and under.
  • Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children. While almost all (94%) of client households with school-aged children (ages 5-18) report participating in the National School Lunch Program, only 46 percent report participating in the School Breakfast Program.
  • Nearly one in four (24%) client households with children report participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
  • Half of client households that reported doubling up (housing more than one family in the same living space) in the past 12 months have one or more children that are five years old or younger.
  • The majority (53%) of client households that are unstably housed (such as a shelter) have one or more children that are five years old or younger.