The worsening pressure of inflation — specifically rising food and fuel prices — coupled with the end of pandemic relief payments brought food insecurity to a five-month high in early December, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Nearly 10% of American households (9.7%) said they “sometimes” or “often” didn’t have enough to eat between December 1 and 13. This number equals more than 21 million Americans. The percentage of households with children experiencing food insecurity had dropped from 11% in early July to 7.8% in early August. The first advance Child Tax Credit payments were distributed to nearly 60 million children on July 15, according to the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 57% of families with household income below $25,000 spent their first payment on food. Those with incomes above that level spent a “sizable portion of the credit” on necessities, as well, showing the importance and significance of the credit in improving the quality of life for both lower- and middle-income families in America.
Bloomberg reported that food banks saw a rise in demand in early December, and that clinics established to treat malnourished children also saw more patients.
Along with the advance CTC, free school breakfast and lunch programs established during the pandemic have also helped to curb childhood hunger. But with many school districts across the country forecasting a return to virtual learning for 2022, these programs may not be as readily available.
The website DistrictAdministration.com published a list of 15 states with at least one — and often multiple — schools and school districts that closed just prior to Christmas. Some intend to open in mid-January, but other districts are planning to go virtual when instruction begins again in the new year, further exacerbating the childhood hunger problem.
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