Thursday, May 07, 2009

3.5 million hungry children in the US

3.5 million children in the United States are at risk of hunger according to a new survey. The survey uses government census numbers to gauge hunger with children. These hungry children are more at risk for developmental or cognitive damage.

The study found that percentages varied from state to state, depending on unemployment and poverty levels in each state.

From this Associated Press story that we found at KOAT, Mary Clare Jalonick breaks down the survey's numbers.

The not-for-profit advocacy group Feeding America based its findings on 2005-2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Agriculture Department. The study, released Thursday, is the first to look at these numbers for children under the age of 5, according to the group.

The study also shows that in 11 states, more than 20 percent of children under 5 are at risk of going hungry. Louisiana has the highest rate, with just under a quarter of children at risk, followed by North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Arkansas.

According to the Agriculture Department, 11 percent of households lacked enough food for an active, healthy life, before the economy worsened late last year.

The study looks at a range of children who are at risk, from those who have low quality or variety of food to those who regularly experience hunger.

A lack of nutritious food, especially in the earliest formative years, can have a lasting impact on physical and behavioral health, along with development and academic achievement.

"These children without the availability of nutrition don't have the chance to spring back," said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive of Feeding America.

Escarra said the group is lobbying Congress and the White House for more federal funding for food bank programs that target young children. President Barack Obama has pledged to expand food aid and end childhood hunger by 2015.

The study was paid for by The ConAgra Foods Foundation, a charity arm of the large food company.

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