Nearly 14 million children in the United States went hungry in June, as the economic fallout from the pandemic continued to batter families. That’s an increase of more than 10 million since 2018, and nearly three times the number of children who went hungry during the Great Recession, according to an analysis of Census data released by the Hamilton Project on Thursday.
The food crisis shows no signs of abating, either, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the relief measures implemented by the federal government in March are set to run out in a few weeks, and it’s not clear whether children will go back to school, where many get fed.
“It’s pretty bad and it’s not getting better,” said Lauren Bauer, an economic fellow at the Brookings Institution who conducted the research.
Typically, children are fed even in families that are really struggling; parents will go hungry in order to make sure their kids are eating.
“If you’re not able to feed your children, it’s a pretty severe signal about your household’s capability to deal with financial shocks,” said Bauer. Most of these families have run out of cushion to deal with the economic pain wrought by this pandemic.
The data relies on a survey conducted by the Census in June that asks households struggling to afford food whether, over a seven-day period, the children in their home are often or sometimes not getting enough to eat.
A stunning 16.9% of households said they were struggling to feed their children. Bauer then estimated how many children are living in those households, and examined their demographics.
The numbers are even worse for Black families, 30% of which are struggling to afford food right now. The rate for Hispanic households is 25%. The struggle to feed children is yet another way the coronavirus crisis is hitting people of color disproportionately harder.