Nearly a fifth of young children in the United States are not getting enough to eat since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, according to research released on Wednesday, highlighting the broader health impact of the crisis.
The Brookings Institution report said a survey found that 17.4% of mothers with children aged 12 or under reported that their offspring were not eating enough due to lack of money.
It is clear that young children are experiencing food insecurity to an extent unprecedented in modern times, said lead researcher Lauren Bauer. Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to today, she added.
The survey to measure the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic uncovered figures worse than during the financial crisis of 2008.
Bauer described the results as alarming, telling the New York Times that households were cutting back on portion sizes and kids were being forced to skip meals.
Disrupted school meal programs could also be factor, she said, with families not collecting meals from distribution sites and older siblings competing for limited supplies at home. Bauer called for the government to increase food security programs and boost benefit levels.