While hunger is a problem affecting all races of children in the United States, the number of Black children who are not getting enough to eat is rising faster than any other group, a new government study shows.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department’s Economic Research Service, there were nearly 2 million Black households where children went hungry some time during the past year. This marked a 25-percent increase over 2007, the research service found in its 2009 report on Household Food Insecurity in the United States. An astonishing 146,000 Black households experienced severe shortages of food during 2008 – a 92-percent increase over 2007 – meaning that the normal eating patterns of one of more children were disrupted because of too little food, the study shows.
“Importantly, these numbers reflect the state of the nation one year ago, in 2008. Since then, the economy has significantly weakened, and there are likely many more children of varying ethnicity struggling with hunger than this report states,” said Vicki Escara, president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. “It is an outrage that one in four children in this nation lives on the brink of hunger and doesn’t have access to adequate amounts of nutritious food.
“This study reveals particularly tragic realities facing many Black families with children. We know that inadequate nutrition in children often delays their cognitive development and cannot be restored later in life,” said Escarra. “Feeding America will continue to focus on expanding programs to hungry and at-risk kids to ensure that our future engines of economic growth are strong adults.”
She said that her group’s food banks are requesting larger and larger amounts of emergency food. In fact, she said, the demand is now greater than any other time in the organization’s history.
“Feeding America’s 200 food banks continue to work on the front lines feeding more than 25 million people each year, through our country’s food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency feeding centers — more than 63,000 agencies in total,” said Escarra. “These establishments, many of which are grass-root and faith-based centers operated solely by volunteers, serve as an oasis for the more than 4 million people who seek relief weekly to help feed themselves and their families. Emergency food assistance is a critical link in the nation’s response chain to help people through times of crisis.”