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Economic Collapse Results in Dramatic Rise in Hunger Among American Children

May 8, 2020 (EIRNS)—A report issued on May 6 by the Brookings Institution documents how young children in the United States are “currently being crushed” by the unprecedented hunger crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost one in five households with children under the age of 12 struggled with food insecurity last month.

Brookings used data from the COVID Impact Survey and The Hamilton Project/Future of the Middle Class Initiative Survey of Mothers with Young Children, and found that rates of food insecurity reached “an extent unprecedented in modern times.” The New York City-based Hunger Free America nonprofit conducted a national survey, and found that 37% of parents reported cutting meal sizes or skipping meals so their kids could eat, because they didn’t have enough money for food between mid-March and mid-April.

This represents a five-fold increase since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. The chief executive officer of Hunger Free America, Joel Berg, says that even before the crisis, “we had a bigger hunger and poverty problem in this country than any industrialized nation on the planet.” Now, with 30 million unemployed, families that already qualified for food assistance need more help than ever. Obviously, the one-time $1,200 assistance check received from the federal government, plus an additional $500 per child, doesn’t go very far, if one or both parents are unemployed.

The Survey of Mothers with Young Children found that 17.4% of mothers with children younger than 12 said they weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford food last month. This rate is a quadrupling from 2018 data, and is three times higher than the hunger level among children during the 2008–2009 financial crash. The Feeding America group warned that 18 million children could go hungry during the pandemic, related to huge job losses, forcing families to wait in miles-long lines at food banks. Feeding America says now 1 in 4 children could suffer from hunger, especially given closure of schools which normally provide poorer kids with nutritious meals. Brookings recommends that the government immediately expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—providing food stamps—by at least 15%.

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