The economic crisis that has come in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak has left nearly a fifth of children in the U.S. without enough food, according to new research from the Hamilton Project, and one in three households in the country food insecure.
"This is alarming," researcher and report author Lauren Bauer told the New York Times Wednesday of her findings. "These are households cutting back on portion sizes, having kids skip meals. The numbers are much higher than I expected."
New Report: @Laurenlbauer finds that young children are experiencing unprecedented levels of food insecurity during #COVID19. Food insecurity has doubled for all households and more than quadrupled among children from 2018 levels: https://t.co/bf6BcR6VhG pic.twitter.com/G3Z1hPtjen
— The Hamilton Project (@hamiltonproj) May 6, 2020
Bauer, a research fellow on education, children, and the social safety net for the Hamilton Project—an economic policy project of the Brookings Institute—used data from two surveys of mothers on eating habits and food resources. She found rates of food insecurity for polled households and children doubled and quadrupled, respectively, their rates during the Great Recession of 2008-2010.
"Child and household food insecurity are off the charts," Bauer tweeted of her study.
According to Bauer's report:
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In the Survey of Mothers with Young Children, 17.4% of mothers with children ages 12 and under reported that since the pandemic started, "the children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food." Of those mothers, 3.4% reported that it was often the case that their children were not eating enough due to a lack of resources since the coronavirus pandemic began... The incidence of hardship among children as measured by responses to this question has increased 460%.
The Survey of Mothers with Young Children found that 40.9% of mothers with children ages 12 and under reported household food insecurity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic... The share of mothers with children 12 and under reporting that the food that they bought did not last has increased 170%.
As Common Dreams has reported, the coronavirus outbreak has strained food supply chains, led meat processing plants to shut down and massacre animals due to dropping demand from restaurants, and resulted in tons of food rotting with no available means of distribution. Despite the food waste, millions of Americans are going hungry, with food banks stressed past capacity as companies institute mass layoffs while paying out millions to shareholders.
Bauer said that though her findings were dire, the answer to the problem was obvious.
"Luckily, food insecurity is an unusual policy challenge in that it recommends a clear solution," Bauer wrote. "To reduce the number of people, including children, who have insufficient food due to a lack of resources, policymakers can supply the resources."