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Hunger in North Carolina

More than one in four (27.6 percent) children in North Carolina struggle with hunger.

Hungry children have trouble concentrating, get more headaches and infections, are more likely to be hospitalized and are less likely to perform well on athletic fields and in classrooms. It's simply much harder for children at risk of hunger to thrive.

Here is a snapshot of hunger in North Carolina:

  • More than 780,000 children in North Carolina, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction, are at risk of hunger and not getting the food they need to lead healthy, active lives.
  • More than 662,000 North Carolina students participated in the free or reduced-price lunch program during the 2013-2014 school year.

Our kids aren’t hungry because we lack food or because of a lack of food and nutrition programs.  Our children are hungry because federal food and nutrition programs that serve children living in poverty and families struggling to make ends meet are frequently underutilized by many of those who are eligible. For example, Share Our Strength’s Center for Best Practices  reports that in North Carolina, of the children who received a free or reduced-price lunch, only 55 percent of children currently participate in the School Breakfast Program and only 22 percent participate in free Summer Meals Programs.

Low enrollment can be attributed to a number of factors, including lack of awareness of available programs and services, language or cultural barriers and complicated enrollment procedures. No Kid Hungry North Carolina believes the most effective way to reduce childhood hunger in the state is to improve the number of eligible families participating in these already-established programs and to encourage community members to get involved to address the issue.