Learn About Childhood Hunger

Childhood hunger exists in every community.  According to research by No Kid Hungry in 2014, 4 in 10 people have been personally affected by or have seen childhood hunger in their community. Childhood hunger is not only solvable; the solution helps to strengthen communities.  Use these resources to learn how ending childhood hunger can improve education and health outcomes, increase workforce productivity and create economic security in your community.  

Understand How Childhood Hunger Affects Communities

In a survey of teachers and principals, Hunger in Our Schools, three quarters see students who regularly come to school hungry.  These educators described hungry students suffering from a host of problems: poor academic performance, inability to concentrate, lack of motivation, tiredness, behavioral problems, and feeling sick.

Research confirms that students who are hungry are more likely to:

  • score lower on standardized tests 
  • repeat a grade
  • be suspended from school
  • get sick more often
  • be hospitalized more frequently

The impact of childhood hunger extends beyond the health and development of the individual child, to affect the economy, the healthcare system and educational outcomes.  Childhood hunger costs our nation billions each year in lost worker productivity, rising costs to address poor education outcomes, and physical and mental healthcare costs.  These three issues – economy, education and healthcare - are among the top priority issues that Americans want government to address according to a Gallop Poll of Americans.  

Childhood hunger is preventable.  Resources exist through the Federal nutrition programs to help meet the needs of hungry children but these programs are underutilized.  No Kid Hungry is working to expand access to these programs so that children get the healthy meals they need to live, learn and play.  Not only do these efforts feed kids, they also strengthen communities by preparing the next generation to be a successful and productive workforce, making government more efficient, and creating economic security for families.

Understand Childhood Hunger In Your State

To better understand the state of childhood hunger and efforts to address it in your community:

  1. Review the data on food insecurity
  2. Know your state’s participation in federal nutrition programs
  3. Identify existing efforts to combat childhood hunger

Every state is different in its effectiveness at connecting children and families with the healthy food they need to thrive and succeed.  Use the State of Hunger map to learn where your state stands on child food insecurity and how well it is doing to connect children to the federal nutrition programs.

For a deeper understanding of how well existing food and nutrition programs are reaching children in need, work with the state agencies that administer the federal nutrition programs in your state to get the most current data on participation in the programs.  Nutrition programs may be administered by one agency or may be distributed across agencies.  Visit the USDA State Agency Directory to find out which agencies oversee the programs in your state. 

To get more context about what is happening on the ground in your community, start by finding out if there is a No Kid Hungry lead partner in your state or ask your state agencies that administer the federal nutrition programs which local organizations work on hunger and nutrition in your community.