Federal nutrition programs are vital in the fight against child hunger. During the pandemic, child food insecurity rates rose nationwide – with more than 13 million children reportedly not having enough to eat. In a joint report with Feeding America, we found that poverty rates are higher in rural communities, and 84% of U.S. counties with the highest percentage of food insecure children are rural.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented rates of child hunger across the country, flexibilities through non-congregate meal waivers and Pandemic EBT were critical to meeting the nutritional needs of children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, especially in rural communities. Furthermore, emerging data show that program flexibilities which help alleviate food insecurity in rural areas also have a positive impact in suburban and urban communities.

Passage of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill or other legislative measures that help strengthen the child nutrition programs is critically important as we continue promoting greater meal access among rural children, and children who reside in hard-to-reach areas with limited transportation.

Watch Share Our Strength's virtual Congressional briefing as we examine the state of child food insecurity in rural America. You will hear from expert panelists working on the ground to combat child food insecurity in rural areas across the country. This briefing also includes a discussion around existing and emerging challenges related to meal access in addition to best practices and policy solutions to help reach more children.