Food insecurity during childhood: Understanding persistence and change using linked Current Population Survey data

Our paper examines the prevalence and determinants of children’s transitions into and out of food insecurity since 2001. We use longitudinally linked data from the Food Security Supplements to the Current Population Surveys to estimate one-year transition probabilities of entry and exit from food insecurity. Our results indicate that child hunger is typically short-lived, but children experiencing very low food security frequently experience multiple consecutive years of food insecurity.

The influence of parental aspirations, attitudes, and engagement on children's very low food security

Survey of Income and Program Participation data are used to investigate the relationship between parenting and children’s very low food security. Parenting is characterized along five domains (emotional outlook, support, education desires, activities with the child excluding meals, and television viewing rules). Food security definitions are obtained from questions in a special SIPP module that are based on the USDA’s core food security module. Graphical evidence indicates that parenting patterns differ distinctly for households experiencing various levels of food insecurity.

The effect of household financial, time, and environmental constraints on very low food security among children

Food insecurity is detrimental to children’s well-being. A better understanding of factors contributing to low and very low food security among children in the United States can guide the design of food assistance programs. We analyze the effects of household characteristics and local food environment attributes, including food prices and availability of food stores and eating places, on children’s food insecurity. We also investigate the effects of these characteristics and attributes on food preparation time.

Is there more to food inescurity among children than poverty? The importance of measurement

This paper examines the association between poverty and food insecurity among children using the official measure of poverty and the newsupplemental poverty measure of the Census Bureau based on a more inclusive definition of family resources and needs. Our objective is to study whether the association between food insecurity and poverty improves with a more comprehensive measure of income and needs.

Families with hungry children and the transition from preschool to kindergarten

This paper exploits a source of variation in the eligibility for federal nutrition programs to identify the program effects on food insecurity. Children are eligible for the WIC program until the day before they turn 61 months old. The result is an age discontinuity in program participation at the 61-month cutoff. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth-cohort dataset, we find strong evidence of a sizeable increase in household food insecurity at the 61-month cutoff.

Does economic decline contribute to a decline in children's food security?

This report presents evidence that spikes in regional and household characteristics played a significant role in the observed 2008 increase in child with very low food security and low food security. Perhaps not surprisingly, unemployment of the household head is found to substantially increase the probability of very low food security and low food insecurity among children. Further, simulations of changes in regional economic conditions indicate rising unemployment rates during the Great Recession explain a significant portion of observed increases in child food insecurity.

The effects of safety net programs on food insecurity

Does the safety net reduce food insecurity in families? In this paper we investigate how the structure of benefits for five major safety net programs – TANF, SSI, EITC, SNAP, and Medicaid – affects low food security in families and very low food security among children. We build a calculator for the years 2001-2009 to impute eligibility and benefits for these programs in each state, taking into account cross-program eligibility rules.

Food insecurity across the first five years: Triggers of onset and exit

Very low food security among young children is associated with developmental deficiencies. However, little is known about the factors that predict entry into or exit from very low food security during early childhood. This study seeks to, 1) Understand the triggers that explain movements into or out of very low food security among children from birth to age five; and, 2) Examine the first aim using different definitions of food insecurity.

Family structure, work patterns, and time allocations: Potential mechanisms of food insecurity among children

Children at the most risk of very low food security are more often being raised in immigrant families. While under a quarter of all children have immigrant parents, a disproportionate amount (40%) comprise the population of children living under the most severe conditions of food insecurity. Family structure is a key predictive factor among low-income families. Cildren living with a single parent or living in a more complex family are at an increased risk of low or very low food security, compared with children living in either a 100% biological family or a stepfamily.