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Millions of US teens struggle with hunger

Dan Gorenstein Sep 12, 2016
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Millions of kids between the ages of 10-17 struggle to get enough food to eat.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Today, research from the Urban Institute and the hunger relief organization Feeding America gives us some of the first detailed information about teen hunger.

Alescia Blakely works at Home Forward, the housing authority that serves Portland, Oregon. For the past year, Blakely has met with teens, hearing their stories.

“There was one teen that was talking about his mother had a bag of rice, and he decided not to eat in order to make sure there was enough for his brothers and sisters and waited until the next day where he could access food from school,” she recalled. 

In the U.S., nearly 7 million kids ages 10 to 17 struggle to get enough to eat.

The Urban Institute’s Sue Popkin said to deal with it, some teens steal, deal drugs or turn to prostitution.

“We heard these stories in every setting,” she said. “Now these are focus groups, and we aren’t asking the kids about themselves, but when we ask them, ‘What is going on in your community?’ the stories came up everywhere.”

Popkin wants policymakers to use this information to increase funding for food stamps and summer feeding programs.

Even food banks, she said, could be more teen-friendly.