Girl with Milk and Apple

Hunger Facts


There is no possible excuse for children to go hungry in this country. Yet it happens - every day, in every community.

More than 13 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes. That phrase may sound mild, but it means that those families don't regularly have enough food to eat.

Poverty & Hunger

1 in 6 children in the United States face hunger.

As you might imagine, hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families. A common way we measure poverty is the federal poverty level (FPL), a number set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The federal poverty level is the minimum amount of money a family needs each year to afford the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

In 2016, the federal poverty level was $24,300 for a family of four.

Tragically, a huge number of Americans fall below this line. Over 40 million people (almost 13% of all Americans) lived in poverty in 2016. Of that number, 13 million were children.

Of course, this number is a minimum. Families making twice that much are still considered low-income by most experts, and likely struggle to make ends meet.

Food Insecurity

More than 13 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes, according to recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That means those families don't regularly have enough food to eat, the most basic of all human needs.

For a more comprehensive understanding of food insecurity, we recommend the USDA’s annual report on Household Food Security in the United States.

Food Insecurity

Childhood food insecurity is the percentage of children under eighteen years old living in households that experience limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods at some point during the year. Source: Map the Meals Gap (2015)



Food Programs in the United States

One of the most effective way to help families and children is through federal nutrition programs.

Some of the nutrition programs you may be familiar with are SNAP, WIC and the national school lunch program. These are critical lifelines for families in need. In 2016, 59% of food-insecure households reported participating in at least one of these programs during the previous month.

No Kid Hungry supports these important programs, though we focus our efforts on other federal food benefits programs that we know can make an enormous difference for hungry kids, such as the school breakfast program, the summer meals program and the afterschool meals program.

School Breakfast

Making breakfast part of the regular school day, just like lunch, has a powerful effect on kids. That’s why we work with educators, political leaders and local nonprofits across the country to change the way schools serve breakfast.

For a better look at how coming to school hungry affects kids, and how making breakfast part of the school day can change their lives, check out Hunger in Our Schools, a 2015 report from No Kid Hungry featuring the stories of kids and teachers.

School Breakfast

School Breakfast participation is the number of low-income children participating in the School Breakfast Program for every 100 who participate in the National School Lunch Program. (SY 15-16)


Summer Meals

5 out of 6 kids who rely on free or reduced-price school meals aren’t getting free meals in the summer.

Millions of kids rely on school for regular meals. But in the summer, those meals disappear. No Kid Hungry is helping community leaders with the funding and know-how they need to start summer meals sites, as well as advocating for needed changes to the national summer meals program.

Currently, the national summer meals programs reaches just 16 percent of the children who need help when school is out of session.

Summer Nutrition

Summer nutrition participation is the number of children participating in the summer meals programs for every 100 low-income students who participate in the National School Lunch Program during the school year. (2015)


Afterschool Meals

The afterschool meals program helps kids get the nutritious meals they need in a safe, supervised location after the school day ends. This program is the newest federal child nutrition program, so No Kid Hungry is working to ensure that more kids, families and teachers know about it and are able to take advantage of it.

Schools served 390 million afterschool meals and snacks to kids in 2015, making it the fastest-growing federal meals program.



The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income families with money to purchase food. 20 million children in the United States rely on SNAP benefits.

SNAP is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs, as well as one of the most responsive, providing additional assistance to needy families during economic downturns and natural disasters. It’s also one of the most-needed: 45 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to buy food each month, according to the USDA. Two-thirds of these benefits go to households with children.

In addition to SNAP, one of the most important and effective federal nutrition programs is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC benefits are primarily for children under the age of five or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. WIC serves 53% of all infants born in the United States, according to the latest figures from the USDA.

7.7 million mothers and children relied on WIC benefits to buy food in 2016.

Through WIC, moms can get nutritious foods for their young children, as well as access to important services at WIC clinics, including nutrition education, counseling and referrals to local health and welfare agencies.


The percentage of people in each state who are eligible for SNAP benefits that actually receive them.