How Many Kids in the United States Live With Hunger?

1 in 5 kids in the United States is living with hunger. That's over 13 million children – a huge jump from a year ago.

Some of these children are missing meals; others are faced with daily uncertainty about food as their parents make tradeoffs between buying groceries or paying bills. But for so many children to go without adequate food in the United States is a tragedy - and a crisis.

Why Are So Many Kids Facing Hunger Now?

When the COVID pandemic first hit, hunger in the United States skyrocketed as millions of families faced unemployment, hospital bills, evictions and hardship. 

But in 2021 we saw record-low food insecurity among families with children. 

That’s because communities, lawmakers and people across the United States came together to take care of one another. We enacted effective government programs to help struggling kids and families, from expanded SNAP benefits to help parents buy groceries to tax credits that helped families pay bills. These policies matter.

But we didn’t keep it up. Congress discontinued investment in many of these critical programs – and now we see the results.

What Can We Do?

The truth? We know exactly how to end childhood hunger in the United States.

Before the pandemic we made steady progress, through programs like SNAP, school meals, summer meals and tax credits for low-income families. And during the pandemic we saw the difference those kinds of programs can make for children when we invest in them.

Today, No Kid Hungry is working to make sure every child gets three meals a day by advocating for these programs and helping communities get the resources they need to feed children.

Hunger vs Food Insecurity

Hunger is not something we can measure; it's something we experience. Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) measures "food insecurity".

Households that are food insecure are those that struggled to provide enough food for everyone living there at some point during the year. A child living in a food-insecure household might not get enough food to eat. Or her mother may have to skip meals to feed her. Or the family may have enough to eat one month, but not the next.

In all these cases, that child is living with hunger. 

Data about childhood hunger is released annually by the USDA. If you read the latest figures from the USDA, you'll see that 13 million children are facing hunger in the United States today. 

Learn more about the ways you can help hungry kids or make a donation today.