Food Insecurity in the U.S.
What comes to mind when you think of summer? Vacation, the beach, no school, farmers markets and the abundance of fresh food available? Us too. However, that’s not the case for thousands of households in the United States. When summer rolls around, these families are thinking about how they’re going to be able to feed their kids now that they’re out of school.
Did you know?
- 10.5 percent of U.S households were food insecure in 2020, and 35.3% of those food insecure households were living below the poverty line. (USDA)
- In 2020, 14.8% of households with children were food insecure.
- The number of children living in food insecure households is approximately 13 million. (‘No Kid Hungry’ website)
To assist these families, the USDA operates two summer meal programs, the “Summer Food Service Program” and the “National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option.” These programs provide meals to eligible children under 18. During COVID, waivers were put in place that allowed more students to access school nutrition, but since students are not in school and receiving regular communication from teachers and social workers, many are missing out on this opportunity. In fact, only 17% of eligible families participate in the programs (USDA) most likely due to lack of awareness of the programs.
According to a study performed by the USDA, about 80% of children in low-income households live within a mile of an urban summer meals site, or within 10 miles of a rural site and although 45% of households with children living near a summer meal site are food insecure, only 17% of them participate in the programs.
According to the Census, the official poverty rate in 2020 increased from 10.5% in 2019 to 11.4% in 2020; all the while, poverty rates for people under the age of 18 increased from 14.4% in 2019 to 16.1% in 2020. The U.S. inflation rate as of May 2022 rests at 8.6% (a 4 decade high), up 1.6% from last year’s rates. This means that money has become 1.6% less valuable, and to top it off, prices have been increasing simultaneously with inflation. According to CPI data, food costs went up 10.1% in the 12 months preceding May 2022. This means that more families are likely to be facing food insecurity, more children are going hungry, and more households are facing poverty than before.
Given that 46% of households who use the program learned about it through word of mouth, it could be inferred that a lack of awareness of these programs prevents a portion of food insecure children from receiving food during the summer. A couple solutions would be to A. have representatives go from community to community informing the public about programs like this, or B. having representatives go from school to school to inform children about the programs, and even pass out pamphlets or flyers of some sort to inform parents.
At PORCH Communities, we are working with our local chapters to share information on how families can access summer meals through local schools as well as through the PORCH Fresh program, which provides healthy non-perishables and nutritious fresh foods to families in need. Join our efforts by supporting PORCH Fresh at: https://porchcommunities.org/donate.