Just before Thanksgiving, 13.2 million people with children in the U.S. did not have enough to eat 


November 17, 2023

Thanksgiving will not be a time of plenty in millions of American households with children this year. 

The number of people with children who reported that in the previous week their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat rose by 2 million, from 11.2 million to 13.2 million over the past year.  In survey periods covering September 20 – October 30 of 2023, close to 16 percent of people with children said they did not have enough food, up from nearly 14 percent who responded during the periods covering October 5 through November 14, 2022. (Important note: See source note at bottom of this blog post.)

Black and Hispanic households with children are more likely to report not having enough to eat than White households with children.  About one in five Hispanic people living with children said they sometimes/often did not have enough to eat in September-October of this year; that was also true for people with children who identified as two or more races or “other.” Even worse, nearly 29 percent of Black people with children reported sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the previous week.  About 12 percent of White people with children reported that level of deprivation. 

The growing struggle to afford food has contributed to an increase of mothers and children making use of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).  It’s good news that more families with low incomes are taking advantage of the benefits of WIC – WIC use is associated with better health and nutrition outcomes for infants and children.  But with a rising caseload, Congress needs to add money to the WIC program. If it does not, it’s estimated that 600,000 mothers and young children could be turned away in 2024.  Advocates and the Biden Administration called on Congress to add funds in the just-passed stopgap spending bill.  Congress failed to do that, so will need to take action after it returns from its Thanksgiving break.

(Source note:  U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse survey data tables, Food Sufficiency for Households with Children, in the Last 7 Days (Food Table 2), averaging weeks 62 (survey period 9/20 – 10/2/23) and 63 (survey period 10/18 – 10/30/23), and comparing to the average of weeks 50 (survey period 10/5 – 10/17/22) and 51 (survey period 11/2 – 11/14/22).  Calculations by Coalition on Human Needs.)