Feeding America Research Projects Child Food Insecurity Could Hit All-Time High Due to COVID-19

Pandemic could bring total number of children facing hunger to 18 million

April 22, 2020

A new report by Feeding America finds that the number of food insecure children could escalate to 18 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The highest total ever reported by USDA in the 25 years that it has been measuring food insecurity was 17.2 million in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Child Food Insecurity looked at projected annual changes to poverty and unemployment to predict changes to food insecurity rates through a range of scenarios. The analysis was conducted by Dr. Craig Gundersen using the model developed for Map the Meal Gap, Feeding America’s county-level food insecurity report. An increase in the unemployment rate of 7.6% coupled with a 5% increase in child poverty rate would result in a 9.3% increase in the child food insecurity rate—bringing the total child food insecurity rate potentially to 24.5%. In the wake of the pandemic, that would mean 1 in 4 children could face hunger in America this year.

“Whether the food insecurity rate rises to one in four or remains at one in seven, as it currently stands now, it is too many children facing hunger in our country,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “This report should mobilize everyone from our elected officials to the public at large to provide all the resources families need to get through this crisis.”

According to the most recent USDA report on food security in the U.S., 37.2 million people, including 11.2 million children, did not have adequate access to nutritious food to live a healthy life. Previous analysis released by Feeding America earlier this month projected that the total food insecure population could reach more than 54 million, and this additional analysis indicates that 18 million children would be part of that total.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted communities large and small, and the ripple effects could be felt for years to come. School closures and stay-at-home orders have upended household budgets. At the same time, Feeding America network food banks are facing an unprecedented set of circumstances with increased demand, a decline in food donations, and fewer volunteers.

“This pandemic has brought the plight of so many millions of our neighbors to the forefront,” Babineaux-Fontenot added. “Every car waiting in a distribution line is a family seeking food and encouragement. We will not stop being there for them and ask that if you can support us in our mission, please give what you can.”

Feeding America established its COVID-19 Response Fund back in mid-March to support the network of 200 member food banks’ efforts across the country. For more information, visit feedingamerica.org/covid19.


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.3 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.