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African-American Women and Children Suffer Most From Hunger and Poverty

February 17, 2012
© Style Magazine

Bread for the World today released its annual analysis of hunger and poverty in the African-American community, particularly among women and children. The analysis also looks at the impact of hunger on the U.S. economy in terms of lost productivity, reduced educational outcomes, and increased healthcare costs.

“For one of the world’s wealthiest nations, poverty and food insecurity are exceptionally high—especially among African-American women and children—but federal safety-net programs keep many families from going hungry,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African-American leadership outreach for Bread for the World. “We must urge lawmakers to create a circle of protection around these programs, protecting them from cuts that could result in more hard times for people in need.”

Twenty-five percent of African-American households struggle to put food on the table, according to “Hunger and Poverty Hurt African-American Women and Children,” compared to about 33 percent of U.S. households overall. And a devastating 40 percent of all African-American children live in poverty, compared to 22 percent of U.S. children overall. This is especially alarming, as research shows that inadequate nutrition during the 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday produces permanent changes in a child’s brain structure and function

“Combatting malnutrition among women and children is a concern in many developing nations, but it also impacts us here in the United States,” added Boykin. “U.S. mothers and children who are improperly nourished during these crucial 1,000 days face greater mortality rates at birth. Children have decreased mental capacity, which leads to lower test scores, a smaller vocabulary, and poorer health throughout their lifetimes. We’ve got to address this issue in our community, and our country as a whole.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) continue to play a vital role for vulnerable families as our country slowly recovers from the economic downturn. More than 56 percent of all SNAP participants are women, 13 percent are African-American women, and nearly 50 percent are children. The WIC program safeguards the health of low-income women and young children up to age 5 by providing healthy packages of food. WIC also provides information on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care.

For more analysis, see “Hunger and Poverty Hurt African-American Women and Children.”

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