Before the pandemic, summer was already a hard time for families struggling to feed their kids, with schools closed and school meals gone. This year, schools closed in March, leaving many children without reliable daily meals for months on end. In the wake of COVID-19, more American families are waiting in line at food banks and rationing meals for their kids. With schools now closed for months, this has been the longest summer for kids facing hunger.
No Kid Hungry recently released The Longest Summer: Childhood Hunger in the Wake of the Coronavirus, a new research-driven report that gives insight into how families are coping with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and how the ongoing crisis has changed public opinion towards nutrition programs that help feed kids–like SNAP and school meals.
Millions of Americans are facing unemployment, fewer hours and lost wages, causing many to face hunger for the first time. 47% of American families are living with hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers are worse among Black families (53%) and Latino families (56%).
Parents are adapting as best they can, including skipping meals and making drastic changes to how they feed their children. As part of the report, parents recorded a series of video diaries, that can be found here.
“It’s all so uncertain right now, the uncertainty is worrying to me. Where the food is going to come from. Food is in short supply, money is in short supply. Even just talking about it now is making my chest hurt.” – Rebecca, mother, Oregon
However, this report gives reason for hope: more Americans are newly aware of just how many families were living on the edge before the pandemic – and how many children struggle with hunger. And more Americans are willing to invest in order to feed them.
Among the findings in No Kid Hungry’s Longest Summer report:
- The pandemic has forced many families to make sacrifices to afford enough food, including parents skipping meals (51%), making meals with limited options (66%) and skipping other bills like utilities or rent in order to afford food (39%)
- Widespread unemployment and hunger has made Americans more supportive of the programs that can help solve it: 76% believe SNAP funding should be maintained or increased and 39% are more supportive of SNAP than they were before the coronavirus pandemic.
- Additionally, more are aware of the importance of school meals programs: 75% of parents said COVID-19 made them realize how important school meals are to families, and 70% of parents said COVID-19 made them realize that more kids rely on school meals than they were previously aware of.
With their eyes opened to the depth of childhood hunger in our country by COVID-19, more Americans are willing to support programs that can solve it; therefore, this crisis has the potential to be a catalyst in the quest to end childhood hunger in America.
To see the methodology and sample sizes for the report, visit LongestSummer.org.