Even as the recession abates, working family incomes often cannot cover family expenses and families are reaching out to food banks and community support systems to meet basic needs. These support systems also have struggled under economically stressful times and new creative approaches are needed.

Researchers at the Center for American Progress estimate that hunger costs the U.S. at least $167.5 billion every year based on a combination of lost economic productivity, increased education expenses, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity. 

Food insecurity – the lack of consistent access to adequate food – affects millions of children and adults every year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Almost 15 percent of all households in 2013 were food insecure, or 49.1 million Americans. On average, from 2003-2011, around one in ten households that include children were food insecure, ranging from a low of 5.1 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 12.8 percent in Texas.

Hunger affects millions of children every year in the U.S. and is linked to greater rates of absenteeism and school disciplinary problems. Those behaviors are, in turn, associated with lower academic achievement and greatly increase the chance a child will drop out of school – which comes with a huge price tag for tax payers. 

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Nearly 200 state leaders, guests and Alaska legislative staff helped pack 32,000 meals for the Alaska Food Bank during The Council of State Governments’ service project Aug. 13. The project—which began in 2010-11 during Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ year as chair of CSG’s Southern Legislative Conference—grew this year to be part of Norris’ initiative as CSG national chair, “State Pathways to Prosperity.” The service project occurred on the final day of the joint CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When CSG’s 2014 chairman Mark Norris talks about the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, he says “it’s something like awakening the sleeping giant.” Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader, spoke at The Council of State Governments 2014 Leadership Council meeting in June.

The Missouri House and Senate have both passed a bill that will lift the restriction on persons with drug felony convictions from receiving food stamps, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Missouri is one of the last nine states – with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming – to...

Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grew from 28 million in 2008 to 44.5 million in 2011 due to the economic fallout of the recession. Program growth slowed from 2011 to 2012, posting just a 4.2 percent annual increase. As SNAP enrollment rose during and after the recession, the gap between poverty and SNAP enrollment began to narrow. However, in 2011, the latest year for poverty data, per capita food stamp enrollment was still below the poverty rate.

All states but North Dakota experienced an increase in participation in the SNAP program between May 2010 and May 2011; 21 states had a double digit annual growth in the number of people depending on SNAP benefits. SNAP program costs are projected by CBO to decline as the economic recovery takes hold more fully. Every $1 spent on SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in total economic activity, according to the USDA. 

The number of poor children has been on the rise for the past 10 years, although those increases vary across state and racial and ethnic lines.  Higher childhood poverty rates mean bigger costs to states, including future health and criminal justice expenses.  

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