May 6, 2020 - Health

Children in the U.S. face "unprecedented" food insecurity, Brookings finds

In this image, a mom and her child walk past a gate to the Mountain View Family Center
Volunteers hand out groceries on April 20 at a food bank opened in response to the coronavirus in El Monte, California. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Children in the U.S. are currently experiencing food insecurity that is "unprecedented in modern times," Lauren Bauer of the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project wrote on Wednesday.

The big picture: Millions of children around the world are endangered by malnourishment and poverty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations warned last month.

What they found: More than 1 in 5 U.S. households were food insecure by the end of April, Bauer writes — marking the greatest increase since at least 2001.

  • 40.9% of mothers with children under 12 years old responded in an April survey that their families had experienced food insecurity since the pandemic began.
  • 34.5% of homes with a child 18 years or younger have had difficulty getting enough food, the University of Chicago's COVID Impact Survey found.

Between the lines: The latest report from the UN's food agency says those struggling with food insecurity often have greater incidence of underlying health conditions that weaken immune systems and can "increase the risk of people developing severe COVID-19 symptoms."

Methodology: Bauers' data is based on a coronavirus impact survey of 2,190 adults April 20–26 by NORC at the University of Chicago, and a Brookings' survey of 1,307 mothers living with children ages 12 and younger conducted April 27–28 via SurveyMonkey. MOE ± 3.0% for both surveys.

Go deeper: Food banks demand surges amid coronavirus crisis

Go deeper