Children's Defense Fund
June 2, 2005


Washington, D.C. -- Today [June 2, 2005], the Children's Defense Fund
(CDF) released a report on the effects of child hunger and food
insecurity, which is defined as the lack of consistent access to
enough food to ensure active, healthy living.

CDF's report shows that hunger is leaving many of America 's families
and children behind, with effects that range from health problems to
academic achievement delays and social difficulties.

According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, 13.3 million American children were food insecure in
2003; of these, 420,000 lived in households where someone had to go

Overall, 36.3 million Americans experienced food insecurity in 2003,
1.4 million more than in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of

"As the wealthiest nation in the world, it is unconscionable that we
have increasing rates of food insecurity among children," said
Richelle Friedman , senior program associate for CDF's Family Income &
Jobs Division. "The tragedy of child hunger is the huge toll it exacts
on children and our nation. Children who come from food insecure homes
or who are hungry are more likely to get sick, have problems in
school, experience trouble getting along with their peers, and show
higher levels of anxious behaviors. As these children mature into
adulthood, our society will feel the effects of their deprivation in
the form of higher rates of school failure, greater health care costs,
and lost workforce productivity."

The CDF report includes state-by-state breakdowns of the percentage of
households with food insecurity and hunger. Among the findings are:

18 percent of children were food insecure in 2003 Low-income families
spent 25 percent of their after-tax earnings on food 3.5 million
families had to use a food pantry at least once during 2003; 46.8
percent of these families also received food stamps. 28.5 percent of
African American and 28.1 percent of Hispanic households with children
experienced food insecurity, compared with 11.3 percent of White
households Despite four consecutive years in which food insecurity has
increased, Congress passed a FY 2006 budget resolution which calls for
the Agriculture Committees to cut $3 billion over five years from
programs under their jurisdiction. Food Stamps and child nutrition
entitlement programs are particularly vulnerable to cuts.

The budget also cuts domestic discretionary spending by $24 billion in
FY 2006. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants
and Children (WIC) could be reduced because of this cut. Without this
crucial assistance, food insecurity will increase among the most
vulnerable American families, putting low-income babies and children
at risk for the many negative health effects of malnutrition.

CDF is calling on the Bush Administration and Congress to expand food
and nutrition programs and to invest in programs that provide economic
supports for low-income families.

"While millions of children in working families do not have enough to
eat, action by Congress threatens to cut programs like WIC, Food
Stamps and the child nutrition programs that provide a critical source
of nutritious meals," Friedman said. "Now is not the time to pull the
rug out from under families who need not only food assistance, but
help in affording other basic necessities of life such as housing and
medical coverage.

"With the approach of National Hunger Awareness Day, we call on
President Bush and the United States Congress to commit the resources
needed to ensure that no American child goes to bed hungry."

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Full Report: Food Insecurity 2005: Over 13 Million Children Face Food
Insecurity June 2, 2005 (Adobe PDF: 6 pages : 122 KB)

# # #

The mission of the Children's Defense Fund is to Leave No Child Behind
and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start,
a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to
adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF
provides a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who
cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We pay particular
attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with
disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and
encourages preventive investment before they get sick, into trouble,
drop out of school, or suffer family breakdown. CDF began in 1973 and
is a private, nonprofit organization supported by foundation and
corporate grants and individual donations. We have never taken
government funds.

Ron Eckstein: (202) 662-3609

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