Children Living in Food Insecure Households
Adequate nutrition is essential for children’s physical growth and brain development, yet hundreds of thousands of Kentucky children must worry about when their next meal will be. Children living in food insecure households experience limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.
Food security is especially critical during early childhood – when the foundation is laid for cognitive functioning – as inadequate nutrition can permanently alter the brain architecture and stunt intellectual capacity. Children who do not receive what they need for strong, healthy brain development during early childhood may never recover their lost potential for cognitive growth.[i]
In addition to cognitive problems, children experiencing food insecurity are more likely than others to have poorer physical and oral health, higher rates of chronic health conditions and hospitalization, higher levels of aggression and anxiety, and experience behavioral problems.[ii],[iii],[iv]
Since 2012, Kentucky has had higher rates of children living in food insecure households than the nation as a whole.[v] We know it is possible to reduce the rate of children living in food insecure households; after the national rate jumped at the start of the Great Recession, it has been gradually declining.[vi]
[i] Center on the Developing Child (2010). The Foundations of Lifelong Health (InBrief). Available at https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-the-foundations-of-lifelong-health/. Accessed October 2017.
[ii] Beaulieu, S.M. (2014). Current and Prospective Scope of Hunger and Food Security in America: A Review of Current Research. RTI International. Available at https://www.rti.org/sites/default/ files/resources/full_hunger_report_fi
24-14.pdf. Accessed October 2017.
[iii] Gunderson, C. and Ziliak, J.P. (Fall 2014). “Childhood Food Insecurity in the U.S.: Trends, Causes, and Policy Options. The Future of Children.” Available at http://www.futureofchildren.org/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/childhood_food_insecurity_researchreport-fall2014.pdf. Accessed October 2017.
[iv] Child Trends Databank (2016). Food Insecurity. Available at https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/food-insecurity/. Accessed October 2017.
[v] Annie E. Casey Foundation (2016). KIDS COUNT Data Center. Available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/line/5201-children-living-in-households-that-were-food-insecure-at-some-point-during-the-year?loc=1&loct=1#2/19/true/869,36,868,867,133,38,35,18,17,16/asc/any/11675. Accessed October 2017.
[vi] Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M.P., Gregory, C.A., and Singh, A. (2017). Household Food Security in the United States in 2016. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Available at https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/84973/err-237.pdf?v=42979. Accessed October 2017.