20 Terrifying Summer Hunger Statistics For 2022

Summer hunger presents a period of summer months when schools are closed and children aren’t getting the food they used to during the school year.

Many families and kids rely on school food programs, but what happens once the school is closed for a couple of months during summer? How many children are experiencing summer hunger? Are their families food-insecure?

These and many more questions will be answered in today’s article. Keep on reading and find out everything you need to know about this seasonal problem.

6 Key Summer Hunger Data & Statistics (Editor’s Pick)

  • 22 million US children depend on school-lunch programs.
  • Summer meals programs only reach 16% of the hungry children.
  • Undernourished students often have academic disadvantages.
  • 5 out of 6 children aren’t getting any free meals in the summer.
  • Many low-income families need to choose between food and utilities.
  • Around 18 million children may face hunger due to the pandemic.

20 Summer Hunger Statistics

1. School-lunch programs help 22 million kids in the US.

According to the data provided by No Kid Hungry, during the school year in the United States, 22 million kids get free or at least reduced-price lunches. With that being said, for some kids, that is the only meal they will have that day. School-lunch programs are an important source of food, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for many children. Such programs are also a big help for many low-income families who are fighting food insecurity on a daily basis.

Source: No Kid Hungry

2. Less than 4 million children will have food during summer vacation.

However, this mentioned high number of 22 million children, decrease a lot during the summer vacation. Millions of children lose access to such crucial meals due to summer and less than 4 million of them will receive free or reduced-price meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program. In total, more than 18 million children will experience the reality of food insecurity and the lack of access to nutritious food. For some kids, summer isn’t a vacation but a struggle.

Source: Morgan Stanley

3. Summer meal programs only reach 16% of hungry children.

According to the study conducted by No Kid Hungry, only 16% of children who need USDA-funded summer meals are actually able to access them. While millions of children in the US suffer from hunger and food anxiety during those hot summer months, a minimal percentage of them will be reached by organized summer meal programs. This problem needs to be addressed more in order for it to be solved.

20 Terrifying Summer Hunger Statistics For 2022 - Summer Food Program

Source: No Kid Hungry

4. The summer is the hungriest time of the year.

Many children in the world depend on a school meal. And for them, once the schools are closed for the summer, they lose the only reliable source of food and nutrition. Even though children in some developing countries are fighting food insecurity all the time, summer is the hungriest time of the year. And that can take a serious toll on children’s health, growth, and development.

Source: No Kid Hungry

5. In the US, 11 million children are food-insecure.

Speaking of food insecurity, there are over 11 million children in the United States who live in food-insecure homes. That means that such households don’t have enough food available for every member of their family which is needed for a healthy life. Children who are coming from food-insecure households often have problems with concentration in school, they can’t focus and may suffer from stunting. In this situation, a secured school meal is a must.

Source: No Kid Hungry

6. More than 10 million US children don’t know where nor when will they eat their next meal.

According to Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks that together reach every county in the country in order to help those in need and decrease the hunger and poverty rates, 13 million children in the US don’t know where they will get their next meal. And children shouldn’t be faced with the reality of food insecurity, hunger, and starvation.

Source: Feeding America

7. Feeding America distributed 54 million meals to those in need during summer.

Due to the fact that Feeding America is fighting to decrease the high levels of hunger in the United States, the organization distributed 54 million meals through various summer meal programs in 2021. Such programs make a significant difference for millions of children across the country.

Source: Feeding America

8. NSLP helps 3 out of 4 students in the US.

National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools. The program provides low-cost or free lunches for children every day in school. According to Feed the Children, 3 out of 4 students quality for such meals in schools.

Source: Feeding America

9. More than 30 million children rely on school meals.

According to the data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 30 million children participate in free or reduced-price lunches, while more than 14 million children participate in breakfast under the School Breakfast Program during the school year. That is a high number of children who rely on school meals. And for some, that school meal is the only meal they will have in a day.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

10. Hungry students have academic disadvantages.

Many of those already mentioned children face a “summer nutrition gap” once the school is closed for those hot months. The summer nutrition gap presents the struggle to secure enough food during summer. This struggle often leaves severe health damages on the children and students. Undernourished students often have academic disadvantages once they return to school in the fall.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

11. Most children don’t get free meals during summer.

According to the data and statistics provided by Children Incorporated, millions of kids in the US face hunger during summer. 5 out of 6 children who rely on free or reduced-price meals during school time aren’t getting any free meals in the summer. That is a high number of children who are fighting food insecurity and suffering from hunger.

20 Terrifying Summer Hunger Statistics For 2022 - Summer Meals

Source: Children Incorporated

12. There are around 36 summer food programs in the US.

Children Incorporated stated that for every 100 school lunch programs, there are 87 breakfast sites and 36 summer food programs. Despite the small number of sites and summer food programs, such and similar organizations help their community to fight their struggles with low incomes and food insecurity. However, there are too few programs – and millions of children stay hungry during those months of summer vacation.

Source: Children Incorporated

13. Globally, 3.1 million children die from poor nutrition.

Food accessibility isn’t the only problem – such food needs to be nutritious in order for the kids to consume enough minerals and vitamins needed for healthy growth and development. According to Children Incorporated, 3.1 million children die globally from poor nutrition. That is 8,500 children per day. Consumption of good, healthy, and nutritious food is much-needed, especially at such young age.

Source: Children Incorporated

14. Developing countries are struggling with hunger.

Developing countries are struggling the most with hunger and starvation. Approximately 28% of all children there are considered to be underweight or have had their growth stunted due to malnutrition. For example, Africa can’t afford to provide school feeding programs to all children. There, more than 60 million children live in extreme poverty and they do not have access to food programs. However, those children who do have access to school and food programs, consume only that one meal per day during the school year.

20 Terrifying Summer Hunger Statistics For 2022 - Hunger In Developing Countries

Source: Children Incorporated and World Food Programme

15. Summer feeding is an additional expense for low-income families.

Low-income families are struggling with food insecurity, hunger, and starvation most of the year. However, it is a relief to know that your children are eating on daily basis during the school year. The cost of summer feeding for low-income families is an additional strain on already limited financial resources.

Source: The Counter

16. Two-thirds of low-income families need to choose between paying for food and medical care.

According to No Kid Hungry data, family grocery costs in the US increase more than $300 a month once the school is over and school meals disappear. And that makes their tight-budget lives even harder. The research showed that two-thirds of all low-income families had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities. Another two-thirds of such families had to choose between paying for food and medical care.

Source: No Kid Hungry

17. Hungry children may have a decline in reading abilities.

A lack of proper, vital, and reliable nutrition during the summer months has a huge impact on children. According to No Kid Hungry, children who are hungry during the summer, are more likely to experience a “summer slide” or a decline in reading ability and other academic skills. They are also more likely to forget what they learned and due to that, be behind their more affluent peers once school starts again.

Source: No Kid Hungry

18. Hunger has long-term health consequences too.

Besides the fact that hunger and starvation can affect children’s academic skills, they can also cause severe health damages and long-term health consequences. Such children can have iron deficiency, asthma, anemia, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Source: No Kid Hungry

19. COVID-19 had a huge impact on summer hunger rates.

In Florida, more than 40,000 children experience hunger when school ends. However, the pandemic has also significantly impacted the already tough situation regarding school lunch programs. According to the All Faiths Food Bank, almost 50% of Sarasota County students and 100% of DeSoto County students rely on free or reduced-price meals at school. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, only the summer was a problem for children, but now, lockdowns are too.

20 Terrifying Summer Hunger Statistics For 2022 - Florida

Source: All Faiths Food Bank

20. Around 18 million children may face hunger due to the pandemic.

According to the research conducted by Kellogg Company, it is estimated that 18 million kids in the US, or 1 in 4 children, may face hunger because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools are still closed as a result of the pandemic and due to that, many students missed the school breakfast and lunch they count on every day.

Source: Kellogg Company

To Wrap It Up

Summer hunger is a big problem. And millions of children who rely on school meals, face food insecurity and hunger during those couple of months of summer vacation. The summer food programs are in high demand, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the school system. No doubt this current situation will have terrible consequences on the rates of hunger and starvation, not only during the summer but the rest of the year too.

Ana loves sharing unusual recipes, combining herbs and spices, writing about current news, and studies about food trends and restaurants. She lives in Croatia and in her free time, she loves cooking and tasting different wine nuances, as well as traveling and enjoying the local cuisine. Ana’s favorite combination is based on seafood and red wines from the south.