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Parents of Young Children
Very young girl sitting on her mother's lap eating a meal

Parents of young children have a critical role in caring for and feeding their children. Understanding their experiences and perspectives is critical to supporting families with young children.

Early childhood is a critical period of growth, nutrition, and development, and parents have a key role to play in caring for their young children.  No Kid Hungry partnered with APCO Insight to conduct a national survey among low-income families who have children five years old and younger.  

The National Early Childhood Survey Summary Brief highlights the survey’s key findings on parents' and caregivers' experiences with hunger, participation in programs, food preparation practices and child care arrangements and preferences.   There are additional briefs from the national survey that dive deeply into particular topics:

The Why Low Income Moms of Young Children Matter two-page document further summarizes research on why mothers of children under five have a critical role to play in shaping their young children’s eating habits.    

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The Impact of CACFP
4 year old girl getting a bagged meal and a milk

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) child care component provides nutritious meals and snacks to infants and children as a regular part of their day care. It plays an important role in meeting nutritional needs and contributing to food security for young children.

  • CACFP Nutrition Benefits for PreschoolersThis national study of Child and Adult Food Care (CACFP) and nutrition outcomes found that preschoolers participating in CACFP increase their consumption of milk and vegetables.
  • Child Nutrition Benefits in California:  This statewide survey of California child care survey providers, conducted by UC Berkeley, compared the dietary quality of meals served at CACFP child care sites and compared it to non-CACFP child care sites.  The study found that CACFP child care sites serve healthier foods (such as more fruits and vegetables and less foods with added sugars) than non-CACFP sites. 
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The Impact of WIC
Mother with her infant child, who is holding a milk container

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program provides food to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant and postpartum women, as well as infants and children under five.  Research demonstrates the benefits of WIC on infant and child health and nutrition.

A large body of research exists that demonstrate the positive effects of WIC on mothers, infants and children.  WIC participation is overall associated with improved diets among infants and children, including consuming less added sugar and a greater variety of food.   Participation is also associated with a lower risk of low birth weight and a greater utilization of health services, which has important implications on child development and well-being.

  • Effects of WIC Research SummaryThis two-page summary highlights the effectiveness of WIC based on recently published research.
  • Effects of WIC Full Report: This full report provides a comprehensive review and description of recently published research on the effectiveness of WIC.