Study Highlights Child Food Insecurity in New Hampshire

Oct 31, 2018

A new report out from UNH's Carsey School of Public Policy highlights the issue of child food insecurity in New Hampshire.

To be food insecure means that a child's household goes without access to healthy meals for a portion of the year. It points to data which show that in 2016, Coos County had the state's highest rate of child food insecurity at almost 18 percent.

Jean Bessette is author of the study, which looked specifically at how summer food programs operate in the county. Coos, the study shows, also has higher rates of unemployment.

"I think it's a big problem,” Bessette said. “I think with fewer people having good jobs it makes it that much harder for families to feed their children, especially in the summer."

For the report, Bessette spoke with organizations in Coos County that, with federal support from the USDA, offer summertime meals to school-aged children.

Bessette said a lack of transportation was one key factor in food not reaching kids in the county.

“A program in Groveton that worked with the New Hampshire Food Bank found other sources of funding so that they could also offer food to the adults,” Bessette said. “And that way it would draw the adults to the program so that the children would also have a way to get there.”

The capacity for smaller organizations to manage logistical things like paperwork required by the USDA is another stress point for the summer food programs, Bessette said.

“It was very moving to see how hard people are working to try to take care of the children,” she said.