Despite food-assistance programs, many children experience food insecurity, hunger

May 27, 2010
ManSoo Yu found that informal assistance through churches, food pantries and soup kitchens, was related to improved child food security. Credit: US Navy, via WikiMedia Commons

Approximately 49 million people, including 17 million children, experience household food insecurity - the lack of resources required to sustain the nutritional needs of family members - according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, this number may be even higher when examining the specific food needs of children. In a recent University of Missouri study, researchers found that food insecurity and hunger among children still persist, even in food secure households and despite food assistance programs and efforts to increase food security.

Children are considered food insecure if, in the last year, they did not eat enough, did not eat for a day, skipped a meal or were hungry because their family could not afford adequate food. In the study, ManSoo Yu, assistant professor in the MU School of Social Work and Master of Public Health Program, examined different factors related to food security among and , including racial comparisons among vulnerable households, participation in the food stamp program and informal food supports.

"We found that household food security does not equate to food security for children within those households," Yu said. "Therefore, children who experience food insecurity may live in households that are defined as food secure. This is alarming considering previous research that indicates food insecure children are more at-risk for being overweight, having poor health, poor academic performance and poor psychosocial functioning."

Yu found that informal assistance through churches, food pantries and soup kitchens, was related to improved child food security. Participation in the food stamp program was related to increased food security among children in Caucasian households, but not in African-American households.

Yu suggests strengthening informal and community-based food assistance programs to be more responsive to the specific nutritional needs of children. He recommends that policy makers examine formal food assistance programs, such as the food stamp program, to improve the response to needs of families in different communities.

"This study provides a better understanding of different factors related to issues of hunger and inadequate nutrition in children," Yu said. "National and community-level programs need to address the relationship among household food security, child and the health of children in vulnerable households."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: The study, "Food Stamp Program Participation, Informal Supports, Household Food Security and Child Food Security: A comparison of African-American and Caucasian households in poverty," was published in the May issue of Children and Youth Services Review.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: U.S. food insecurity increasing

Dec 20, 2005

At least 38 million U.S. citizens can't count on having enough food throughout the year -- and Tufts University scientists say the number is increasing.

70 percent of Inuit preschoolers live in food insecure homes

Jan 25, 2010

Seventy percent of Inuit preschoolers in Nunavut, Canada's largest territory, live in households where there isn't enough food, a situation with implications for children's academic and psychosocial development, found an ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

21 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.