The Number Of Mothers Reporting Food Insecurity Has Jumped More Than 200% Since Start Of Pandemic

Published 4 years ago

TOPLINE: More than 40% of mothers with children under the age of 12 in the United States said that they have experienced food insecurity since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to a survey co-conducted by the Hamilton Project, a dramatic rise that demonstrates how far-reaching the effects of the outbreak are.


  • The survey, conducted in late April, asked a representative national sample of mothers whether they had experienced food insecurity, defined as not having enough money to get more food after the food they bought had run out, or as their children not having enough to eat because their families couldn’t afford enough food.
  • In 2018 the number that said they’d experienced food insecurity was just 15.1%, for comparison, meaning this number has increased 260%.
  • Similarly, 17.4% of mothers with children under the age of 12 reported they could not afford to keep their children fed as a result of the pandemic, and 3.4% of that group said it was often the case their children were underfed because they could not afford food.
  • The Hamilton Project’s Future of the Middle Class Initiative Survey of Mothers with Young Children asks respondents questions validated by the USDA from their late April food security questionnaire, according to their website.



With staggering unemployment and children at home 24/7, parents are responsible for 100% of their children’s meals, as compared to life pre-pandemic where children were likely provided meats at school, daycare, camp and after-school programs, which may play a significant role in these huge numbers, according to the New York Times NYT.  Food insecurity is way up in general: the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey found 21.9% of households with non-elderly adults to report food insecurity in the period from March 25 to April 10 (wth similar findings in a late April survey by COVID Impact), compared to the 2018 rate of just over 11%.

In Congress Democrats and Republicans are now bickering over food stamp benefits. Democrats want to raise benefits by 15% for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, while Republicans think they are fine as is, per the New York Times.

Alexandra Sternlicht, Forbes Staff, Business