Hunger in North Carolina

"It should shock us all that so many children in our state don’t get enough to eat. We must find ways to help hungry children and their families..."

— Governor Roy Cooper

Hungry children have trouble concentrating, get more headaches and infections, are more likely to be hospitalized and are less likely to perform well on athletic fields and in classrooms. It's simply much harder for children at risk of hunger to thrive.

In North Carolina:

  • Almost 900,000 children in North Carolina, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction, are at risk of hunger and not getting the food they need to lead healthy, active lives.
  • More than 693,000 North Carolina students participated in the free or reduced-price lunch program during the 2014-2015 school year.

Our kids aren’t hungry because we lack food or because of a lack of food and nutrition programs. Our children are hungry because federal food and nutrition programs that serve children living in poverty and families struggling to make ends meet are frequently underutilized by many of those who are eligible.

For example:

  • Share Our Strength’s Center for Best Practices reports that in North Carolina, of the children who received a free or reduced-price lunch, only 55 percent of children currently participate in the School Breakfast Program.
  • The Food Research & Action Center’s Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: 2017 Summer Nutrition State Report states that in North Carolina, of the children who received a free or reduced-price lunch in 2015-2016 school year, roughlyonly 16 percent of those children received free, summer meals.

Low enrollment can be attributed to a number of factors, including lack of awareness of available programs and services, language or cultural barriers and complicated enrollment procedures. No Kid Hungry North Carolina believes the most effective way to reduce childhood hunger in the state is to improve the number of eligible families participating in these already-established programs and to encourage community members to get involved to address the issue.


Next steps:

Read the 2017 Hunger In Our Schools Report.

Learn more about what you can do to help feed kids.

Find food assistance near you.