Food insecurity rates across Massachusetts are significantly higher for children than for the general population, according to “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity,” a new report issued by The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) and Feeding America, the national network of food banks. For the first time, the report examines hunger among children down to the county level. It shows that one in nine children in Massachusetts face hunger, and that in some parts of the Commonwealth, that number is as high as one in four.
“These new statistics are staggering,” said Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank. “Children suffer disproportionately from hunger. Not only are they more likely than adults to experience hunger, but its impact can leave lasting damage in the form of developmental delays that affect children’s health and school performance.”
“More than a third of the 545,000 people served by GBFB last year were children, and that number will grow this year,” D’Amato continued. “That’s why we’ve committed to providing at least one meal a day to those in need in eastern Massachusetts. We’re making a critical difference in the lives – and futures – of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The report also shows:
- Statewide, the child food insecurity rate is 18 percent, compared to just over 11 percent for the full population. That means more than 260,000 children in Massachusetts face hunger on a regular basis.
- Forty-seven percent are from families who earn too much to qualify for government nutrition assistance such as SNAP (food stamp) benefits, free or reduced price school lunch, or WIC (Women Infants Children) benefits.
- Three of the five counties with the highest child food insecurity rates in the state are served by GBFB, including Bristol, Essex and Suffolk Counties.
An executive summary of the child food insecurity report can be found at: feedingamerica.org/mapthegap/childsummary.