CHICAGO -- Nearly one in three Latino children, more than four million, in the United States lives in a family receiving private emergency food assistance, such as from a food pantry or soup kitchen. This compares to one in ten white children, according to Feeding America's quadrennial study, Hunger in America 2010. Further, children from Latino families served by food banks apply for fewer benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the cornerstone of the federal nutrition safety net, than either white or African American children. At its core, the finding that 31 percent of children served by the Feeding America network is Latino indicates a growing need for culturally-appropriate service delivery.
The data collection for Hunger in America 2010 conducted in early 2009 is the first comprehensive research study to capture the connection between the recent economic downturn and increased needs for emergency food.
ConAgra Foods Foundation, Feeding America's Leadership Partner in the Fight Against Child Hunger, sponsored two reports by the Urban Institute about the use of emergency food assistance and federal nutrition programs among low-income Latino or Hispanic children. The 2010 reports, "Emergency Food Assistance Helps Many Low-Income Hispanic Children," and "Low-Income Hispanic Children Need Both Private and Public Food Assistance" both by researchers Michael Martinez-Schiferl and Sheila R. Zedlewski suggest that, overall, emergency food assistance from private providers offers a lifeline to many Latino families whose needs are not being met by their own resources or by the federal nutrition safety net.
The following represent some of the reports' key findings:
Hispanic families are less likely to receive SNAP benefits than families in other demographic groups. Only 41 percent of Hispanic families served by the Feeding America network access SNAP, which is significantly lower than black (56 percent) and white (61 percent) families.
Lower receipt of SNAP benefits by Latino families served by the Feeding America network suggest that low-income Hispanic families may be at greater nutritional risk than other demographic groups.
Latino children served by the Feeding America network are significantly more likely to live in households with working adults (63 percent) than Caucasian (51 percent) or African American children (40 percent). Even so, Hispanic children in the U.S. remain highly likely to be poor: 30 percent of Hispanic children lived in poverty in 2008.
"During this economic downturn, the social safety net needs to be stronger to help prevent low-income families from sinking even further into hunger and to make sure Hispanic children have the resources they need to become productive adults," saidVicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "Childhood hunger is an issue that demands ongoing attention, advocacy, and a critical need for access to federal nutrition programs."
Martinez-Schiferl and Zedlewski note, "Most of the households with children that turn to food banks get help multiple times during the year, reflecting high rates of deep poverty -- below one-half of the federal poverty level -- and food insecurity."
About Feeding America
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.
About the Urban Institute
The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation. It provides information, analyses, and perspectives to public and private decision makers to help them address these problems and strives to deepen citizens' understanding of the issues and trade-offs that policymakers face.
ConAgra Foods Foundation
The ConAgra Foods Foundation, through its Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow platform, is dedicated to raising awareness of the nearly 17 million children in America who are at risk of hunger and don't have enough food to live active, healthful lives. It aggressively pursues sustainable solutions in the fight against child hunger. And the Foundation is committed to building a community of people who are passionate about ensuring that all kids have access to the food and facts they need to eat nutritiously while living balanced lifestyles and succeeding in school and life. ConAgra Foods Foundation invests in national and local partnerships with high-impact, not-for-profit organizations, such as Feeding America, that take an innovative approach to addressing needs in the core areas of hunger and nutrition education.