about food insecurity in today’s environment and summarizes CACFP’s potential contribution to the nutrition of individuals in day care.
Food insecurity, the uncertainty of having enough food to meet the basic needs of household members, places children at risk for inadequate food and nutrient intake and for impaired or diminished growth. Among both children and adults, food insecurity increases the risk for behavioral and psychosocial dysfunction (Miller et al., 2008) and poor health outcomes, including infant and toddler development (Biros et al., 2005; Kirkpatrick et al., 2010; Rose-Jacobs et al., 2008; Stuff et al., 2004). The monitoring of food insecurity across the nation by USDA indicates that, as of 2007, the prevalence of food insecurity among children was 8.3 percent and was 11.1 percent for households (USDA/ERS, 2009a). By the end of 2008, the prevalence of household food insecurity had increased to 14.6 percent, the highest prevalence since data collection began in 1995 (USDA/ERS, 2009b).
A high proportion of children served by CACFP can be considered vulnerable to food insecurity because they are from low-income households. However, economic status alone does not predict “hunger” or food insecurity. Adult participants may be vulnerable to food insecurity for another reason: functional impairments may limit their ability to obtain, store, and prepare enough food to meet their needs. Taken together, the population served by CACFP may be considered at higher risk for food insecurity and its associated outcomes than the general population.
Considering the U.S. population as a whole, CACFP makes a much greater contribution to the food and nutrient intakes of the nation’s children, especially its young children, than it does to its adults. The potential impact of CACFP on individuals in day care settings that participate in the program, whether children or adults, depends on the number of hours spent in day care and thus the amount of food they are served. The discussion below covers participation in day care and the potential contribution of calories from meals served during day care.
Overview The document America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being estimates that 36 percent of the U.S. child population ages 0–6 years are cared for in center-based programs that include child care centers,