Posts Tagged ‘ hunger ’

Fathers’ Role in Food Security Studied Amid Food Stamp Cuts

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Dads who don’t live with their children but are involved in their lives may be helping their kids achieve better food security, researchers at Rutgers University have found.  The findings come in the wake of a reduction in food stamp funding that affected 47 million Americans in November.  More from the university:

The new research, published this month by Lenna Nepomnyaschy, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, in Social Service Review has found that nonresident father involvement in a child’s life is positively associated with lower food insecurity in both early and middle childhood. Involvement could include time spent with the child, monetary contributions and “in kind” support, such as treats, gifts and payment of medical or childcare expenses. In particular, in kind support resulted in a 10 to 12 percent reduction in food insecurity for children.

“These results add to mounting evidence that nonresident father involvement, outside of the formal child support system, positively affects children and must be considered in policy discussions related to child support, child poverty and child well-being,” says Nepomnyaschy.

Research on food insecurity for children is especially timely, as 47 million food stamp recipients in the U.S. received a $5 billion reduction in November. And Congress is preparing to cut even more out of the nutrition program. Lawmakers are currently finalizing a federal farm bill which is likely to reduce food stamp benefits by $8.7 billion over the next decade.

“As families lose food stamps, any resources a father provides become even more important,” Nepomnyaschy said. ”Men overwhelmingly want to contribute to the well-being of their children, and child support alone may not increase food security. If a woman is on welfare, the state takes her child support to reimburse the cost for welfare, rather than it benefiting the child.”

Using two nationally representative longitudinal panel data sets from the Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics which followed children through early and middle childhood and assessed economic stability and food insecurity in the home, the researchers found this trend to be consistent across both sets of data.

“For vulnerable families, fathers’ contributions of time and material resources have a positive effect on food security,” Nepomnyaschy said. ”Having in kind support may help the mother to reallocate her resources to provide more food for the household. The father’s visits may reduce her stress and enhance her parenting, providing her the resources and time to grocery shop and cook meals.”

More than 1 in 10 children in the U.S. experience food insecurity, and children in single-mother families are at greatest risk, being three times as likely to not get enough food, than children in two-parent families.

Image: Father and children, via Shutterstock

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Hospitals: Hunger Rising Among Children

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Hunger and malnourishment are on the rise among children in five American cities, but mostly in Boston, a new hospital study reports.  The Boston Medical Center (BMC) has seen a marked increase in underweight and undernourished children, The Boston Globe reports:

Before the economy soured in 2007, 12 percent of youngsters age 3 and under whose families were randomly surveyed in the hospital’s emergency department were significantly underweight. In 2010, that percentage jumped to 18 percent, and the tide does not appear to be abating, said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC.

“Food is costing more, and dollars don’t stretch as far,’’ Sandel said. “It’s hard to maintain a diet that is healthy.’’

Pediatricians at hospitals in four other cities – Baltimore; Little Rock, Ark.; Minneapolis; and Philadelphia – also reported increases in the ranks of malnourished, hungry youngsters in their emergency rooms since 2008. But Boston’s increases were more dramatic, said Sandel, a lead investigator with Children’s HealthWatch, a network of researchers who track children’s health. Researchers said higher housing and heating costs in Massachusetts probably exacerbated the state’s surge.

The emergency room survey found a similarly striking increase in the percentage of families with children who reported they did not have enough food each month, from 18 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.

The article reported that BMC has also noted a 58 percent increase in the past 5 years in the number of severely underweight babies referred to the hospital’s intensive infant nutrition program called The Grow Clinic.  The clinic’s current patient load is similar to typical figures from developing countries.

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