America's Second Harvest Issues New Report on Children Facing Hunger
CHICAGO, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In Nebraska, 16 percent of all children live in food insecure households, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal.
In the United States overall, one out of six children in small towns and big cities lives in a food insecure household. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 12 million children in the United States live in this condition -- unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life.
That's enough children to fill every seat in all of the professional league football, baseball, basketball and hockey stadiums and every Division One NCAA basketball stadium across the country at the same time.
Now, for the first time, the extent of child hunger as reported by the USDA has been examined by state in a new study released today by America's Second Harvest--The Nation's Food Bank Network and sponsored by ConAgra Foods Foundation. In 12 states -- nearly one quarter of the country -- more than 20 percent of the children live in households without consistent access to food.
"Next time you're in a classroom, look around and think about what this means in these states with particularly high numbers," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest. "In some states this means four or five students in a classroom of 20 kids do not consistently get the nourishment they need to grow and thrive."
Researcher John Cook, Ph.D., of the Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, a nationally-recognized expert on child hunger, conducted the analysis.
The states with the highest rates of child food insecurity are Texas and New Mexico, where more than 24 percent of all children are at risk of hunger. The other states with child hunger rates above 20 percent are: California, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Utah. Washington, D.C. also has a child food insecurity rate above 20 percent.
"This study shows pockets of vulnerability which will help America's Second Harvest and the ConAgra Foods Foundation's 'Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow' partnership develop an overall strategy to end child hunger in America," said Escarra. "Identifying areas of greatest need can help in targeting Food Stamp program outreach efforts, placement of Kids Cafes and BackPack programs, grants and the expansion of Summer Food Service program sites."
"We hope this new report is a wake-up call for all Americans," continued Escarra. "The tragedy of child hunger in America, and the terrible toll it exacts, cannot be overstated. This report shows that child hunger is not a rare event -- is not limited to the inner-city or hardscrabble rural areas. Child hunger exists in every state, and in nearly every community. We hope that people will be motivated to help end this crisis."
Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2003 -- 2005 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 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 America's Second Harvest, whose network of food banks and food-rescue organizations serves 25 million Americans every year.
The ConAgra Foods Foundation program is the largest c