1 in 5 children receive food stamps — more than before the recession


by Dmitriy Synkov (image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture)

While some would say the nation is rebounding from the recession, the gains of the recovering economy have not been equally felt throughout the country, especially for vulnerable families and children. Children today, in fact, are more likely to be receiving food stamps than they were before the recession.

One in five children receive food stamps today — that’s 16 million kids, compared to 9 million in 2007, according to recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly half (47%) of those children on food stamps come from single-mother homes. Though significantly smaller in number, children receiving food stamps in both married and unmarried parent homes have also increased, doubling since 2007.

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Billy Shore, CEO of Share Our Strength,  an anti-child hunger advocacy group, believes that one reason more kids are receiving food stamps is that the “program has done a better job at reaching those who need it.” While it’s positive that needy children are able to access necessary benefits, said Shore, this also shows the reality that while many have “participated in America’s economic recovery in the past few years, many more have not. For many families, there has been no path out poverty.”

According to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, three out of five teachers have children in their classroom who regularly come to school hungry and four out of five of those teachers say these children come to school hungry at least once a week.

Amanda Price, a second-grade teacher at Forrest Heights STEM Academy in Little Rock, Ark., has witnessed first-hand the plight of hungry students. “So many students struggle to be successful in classrooms because they can’t manage to think or process information while they’re so hungry all the time,” she says. Price lists low achievement and behavior problems as the two biggest side-effects. “They go hand-in-hand as the biggest factors of student hunger,” she adds.

Fortunately, Price has also seen solutions that help curb classroom hunger. After moving to a school district that offered breakfast-in-the-classroom programs, she immediately saw a shift in students’ behavior. “I could definitely see the change in the kids, in their behavior, their attitude, their successes and achievements.”

For a program that takes little time, it has a large impact on student success, says Price.

The students come in, they grab their breakfast, they take their seats, and within the first 10 minutes are usually done and go on with their school work. It’s so nice to have the assurance that my kids are fed.”

Breakfast-in-the classroom programs such as the one in Price’s school district are useful tools to help curb child hunger, according to NEA’s Health Information Network (HIN). Since 2010 HIN has assisted in implementing breakfast programs in 13 states and 15 high-need school districts as a member of Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC). Most recently, PBIC received a $5 million grant to provide breakfast for 25,000 additional students.

Reader Comments

  1. I work in one of the schools lunch rooms. We had more kids eat a lunch before the Michelle Obama healthy food act. Now that everything is made with no fat at all, whole wheat and now an item mixed in called quinoa. As an adult, I eat as one of the stuff but most of the time I bring my own food. There is no flavor or spice to the food. You can go to as my good doctor and they will tell you that your breakfast and lunch is to be the most important foods to eat. The high school that I work at, I get off at 2 and go straight across to mcdonald’s as nd have s n ice cream Sunday and wait till 3 when my child gets out. You wouldn’t believe how pack that place gets because they are hungry. Before hardly anyone came because they had a good wholesome Lunch.

  2. The children are hungry because even two or three minimum wage jobs cannot keep quality food on the table, a roof overhead, and heat in the house. Food stamps do not cover even the most basic family needs adequately.
    The difficulties of poverty cannot be overcome without a good education. Feeding a substantial breakfast and lunch to a hungry child is simply a way to support that child’s school progress. I know this, firsthand, as a teacher in a 99% poverty household, urban elementary school. When child is hungry, he/she cannot concentrate or learn.
    Food should never be a “maybe” for our nation’s most valuable resource, our children.

  3. So what administration has been in power since the recession? Keep voting for progressives who hand things out. Pretty soon there will be nothing to hand out to anyone. Socialism is a great idea until everyone else’s money has been spent.

    1. I have taught on a middle school and high school level, and I have seen students who came to school hungry and/or who were able to get medical attention only through the intervention of the school nurse. Many of these kids were the children of unemployed parents, but if they were the children of alcoholics, that is unfortunate…a bad decision on the parents’ part…it was in no way the fault of the kids, many of whom were capable and highly motivated students when they had the food and the attention that they needed…sometimes more motivated than their more fortunate peers.

    2. Social programs are beneficial, and may be necessary; however, iare Breakfast-in-the classroom programs such as the one in Price’s school district MISPLACED tools to help curb child hunger? Should better tools provide food to parents and families rather than to institutions of learning and educators so that the responsibility for feeding children is with parents and families, not teachers and schools?

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