Expand All
Copy Link
Ensuring Access to Healthy Food during a Child’s First Years
toddler holding an apple

Good nutrition is crucial during the rapid growth and development of early childhood. Yet structural racism has left far too many communities with limited access to healthy food and far too many children under five vulnerable to poor health, impaired learning and school readiness, and behavioral problems, as well as other issues associated with food insecurity during the early years.

Young children are struggling with food insecurity...

  • According to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (July, 2020), about 29 million adults — 12.1% of all adults in the country — reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days.
  • The rates were more than twice as high for Black and Latino respondents (21% for both groups) as for white respondents (8%).

And young children’s growing bodies need good food

  • The brain undergoes dramatic development during the early childhood years, building cognitive, social, and emotional capacity along with advancement in language and motor skills. [1], [2] According to the World Health Organization, “Early childhood is the most intensive period of brain development during the lifespan.  Adequate stimulation and nutrition are essential for development during the first three years of life.”[3]

Food insecurity in the early years can have an immediate and lasting impact….

  • Children living in households experiencing food insecurity are at greater risk of fair or poor health and hospitalizations, developmental delays, cognitive impairment, poor academic performance, abnormal weight and body mass index, and decreased social skills.

And the costs will still be felt decades later

  • Three of the five most costly adult diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression which cost $582b annually) are associated with early life adversity, like food insecurity, according to the American Heart Association.

All families want to give their children the best start and that includes being able to provide enough healthy food to fuel and nourish their children. Together, with policy-makers, healthcare providers, childcare centers, community-based organizations and other national and local partners, No Kid Hungry is committed to ensuring every child, regardless of zip code, has access to the healthy food they need to thrive. And, together with our Cooking Matters partners, we are empowering families with 0-5 year olds to stretch their food budgets and cook healthy meals.


[1] Rosales F, Reznick J, and Zeisel S. Understanding the Role of Nutrition in the Brain and Behavioral Development of Toddlers and Preschool Children: Identifying and Overcoming Methodological Barriers. Nutr Neurosci. 2009 October ; 12(5): 190–202.

[2] Sakai KL. Language acquisition and brain development. Science 2005;310:815–9

[3] World Health Organization Fact Sheets: Early Child Development. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs332/en/.

Copy Link
New Research on Impact of COVID on Food Insecurity Among 0-5 Year Olds (December, 2020)
breakfast distribution

New research from both the Urban Institute and the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution confirms what many of us have feared since the COVID pandemic began: our babies and toddlers are going hungry at alarming rates.

The new research from the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution, released right before Thanksgiving, finds that in the month of October nearly one in 10 parents with children ages five and younger said their children did not have enough to eat and that they did not have enough money to buy food.

Similarly, new research from the Urban Institute finds that 23.9 percent of parents with children under the age of six faced hunger and hardship in the previous month. This could mean they did not have enough food and/or they had to make trade-offs, like choosing cheaper, less nutritious foods for their babies instead of fruit and vegetables.

WATCH: No Kid Hungry hosts a town hall on COVID-19's impact on hunger among kids ages 0-5

Copy Link
An Innovative COVID-19 Response for Families with Young Children in Washington, D.C.
Erik prepping a meal w mask

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing systemic inequalities especially for families living East of the river in Washington, D.C. No Kid Hungry and the team of the Division of Community Pediatrics (DCP) at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Power of 10 Initiative responded to the community’s call for healthy prepared meals and groceries delivered safely to their door during this national emergency. Read more about how families enjoyed and benefited from this partnership in this microreport