There are 2.5 million children in america growing up in “grandfamilies,” meaning they’re being raised by relatives or close friends without their parents in the house, they usually face higher rates of hunger and food insecurity, in keeping with a recent report.
The Generations United report, “Together on the Table: Supporting the Nutrition, Health and Well-Being of Grandfamilies,” highlights the actual struggles of such households, which are sometimes unprepared financially for the unexpected job of raising a baby, and should encounter difficulty accessing food and nutrition programs designed to assist.
The truth is, 25% of grandparent-headed households experienced food insecurity between 2019 and 2020, which is greater than twice the national rate. The long-term health implications of food insecurity — including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and eating disorders — are dire. Moreover, food insecurity negatively affects a baby’s ability to learn and grow.
While families from all areas of the country face food insecurity, for the massive variety of grandfamilies living within the South and in rural areas, services are sometimes more limited or difficult to access. What’s more, grandfamilies are disproportionately Black, Latino and American Indian and Alaska Native, populations that have already got disproportionate rates of food insecurity on account of years of systemic racism.
Recently, the White House released a sweeping national strategy to cut back hunger. While advocates describe the plan as welcome and comprehensive on many levels, and say that it identifies the importance of improved outreach to grandfamilies, in addition they consider it must go further. In keeping with Generations United, some key policy changes to cut back food insecurity for grandfamilies include:
• Developing quality kinship navigator programs that connect grandfamilies to support and services of their communities. These programs should provide food and nutrition support to grandfamilies outside the kid welfare system.
• Expanding access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by making a “child-only” profit that relies on the needs of the kid versus household income and by increasing outreach to grandfamilies.
• Ensuring automatic access to free and reduced school meals for kids living in grandfamilies.
• Improving outreach of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to assist reach more grandfamilies and connect them with advantages for which they’re eligible.
• Creating joint meal programs for grandfamily caregivers and the youngsters they raise.
“Research shows that being raised by members of the family or close friends is the very best option for kids who can’t be raised by their parents,” said Donna Butts, the chief director of Generations United. “But unfortunately, these families face hunger and food insecurity at much higher rates than the common family. The necessity for basic nutrition and adequate food is universal, and each family deserves to be healthy and thrive. The undeniable fact that a lot of our policies and programs to cut back hunger weren’t designed with grandfamilies in mind mustn’t stand in the best way of this right.”
To read the total report and learn more about issues affecting grandfamilies, visit https://www.gu.org/.