One in Six Young Children Live at Risk of Hunger in 26 U.S. States According to New Feeding America Report

May 6, 2009

One in six young children live on the brink of hunger in 26 states in the U.S., according to a new report issued today by Feeding America. The rate of food insecurity in young children is 33 percent higher than in U.S. adults, where one in eight live at risk of hunger

Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 -- 2007 states that 3.5 million 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 also found that food insecurity among all children (persons less than 18 years of age) increased dramatically in many states, when compared to USDA data collected between 2003 and 2005. The report was funded with a grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

More than 12 million children in the United States are food insecure – unable to consistently access adequate amounts of nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

"Children are the engine for economic growth in the United States. Hunger creates unbearable, unsustainable costs that ripple through the economy and prevent economic success." 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."If we fail to give them the nutrition and health supports they need in the first three to five years of life, our economy cannot fulfill its potential."

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. 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."

"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; they become a man or woman who cannot earn."

The states with the highest rates of food insecure children under 5 years of age are:

State

Rate

Louisiana

24.2%

North Carolina

24.1%

Ohio

23.8%

Kentucky

23.3%

Texas

23.3%

New Mexico

23.3%

Kansas

20.9%

South Carolina

20.7%

Tennessee

20.4%

Idaho

20.2%

Arkansas

20.0%

West Virginia

19.8%

Missouri

19.8%

The states with the highest rates of food insecure children under the age of 18 are:

State

Rate

Texas

22.1%

Mississippi

21.5%

District of Columbia

21.4%

Tennessee

20.5%

Arizona

20.2%

South Carolina

20.2%

Louisiana

20.0%

Missouri

20.0%

Maine

19.5%

North Carolina

19.4%

The state-by-state study was sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation as part of its"Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow" program 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.

"ConAgra Foods is stepping up its fight to end child hunger in the United States," said Kori Reed, executive director of the ConAgra Foods Foundation."The ConAgra Foods Foundation is building a community of people who are passionate about ending child hunger and teaching kids about nutrition, building a movement to ensure that hunger remains at the forefront of the national agenda and inspires action."

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 specifically the number of children living in food insecure households by state.

The ConAgra Foods Foundation program is the largest corporate initiative solely dedicated to fighting hunger through Feeding America. ConAgra Foods has contributed more than $27 million in funding to the organization since 1993. The ConAgra Foods Foundation also granted 167 trucks to member food banks to help with the transportation of donated food. They have provided grants to open 257 Kids Cafes, which are after-school programs that offer food and a safe haven for children in need nationwide.

The report is available at http://Feedingamerica.org/childreport

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