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), 15.8 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.
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.
Charitable Food Assistance
Participation in Federal Nutrition Programs
research project found that one in three low-income American families struggles to afford basic non-food household goods—including products related to personal care, household care and baby care—and, as a result, make trade-offs with other living expenses and employ coping strategies to secure essential household goods.
Coping strategies and spending tradeoffs employed by low-income families struggling to afford basic necessities in the previous 12 months include:
In Short Supply also found that more than 4 out of 5 families unable to afford basic necessities also classify as food insecure, illustrating that struggling families have difficulty not only meeting their basic needs, but their need for food as well.
In this two-part research project, commissioned by Feeding America and supported by a research grant from Procter & Gamble, the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign first conducted qualitative interviews in fall 2011 with 25 food pantry clients about non-food essentials. These interviews were then used to inform a nationally representative, quantitative phone survey of 1,876 households with children, conducted by Abt SRBI from January through March 2012. Low-income families, those with an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), were oversampled to ensure adequate representation.