How Grandfamilies Are Struggling with Food Insecurity

Grandfamilies© Monkey Business Images / Canva

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in our society, particularly when it comes to food insecurity. In the United States, 1 in 6 people was living in food-insecure households before the pandemic began. This crisis has affected grandfamilies—or groups of relatives and close friends raising children without their parents—especially hard. Grandfamilies have been hit by job losses, fewer resources, and limited access to nutrition supports from their communities. Let’s explore how the pandemic has impacted these households and what policy changes could help provide families with more support.

Experiences of Grandfamilies During the Pandemic

Grandfamilies have been severely impacted by the pandemic. According to an analysis from Generations United, there are approximately 2.5 million children being raised by grandfamilies in the United States today. Of these households, 25% experienced food insecurity between 2019 and 2020—a 10% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, poverty rates among this population increased from 11% to 17%. These financial struggles led to increased levels of hunger and food insecurity among grandparent-headed households.

The Need for More Support Programs for Grandfamiles

Recent research indicates that close family and friends are the best options for raising children who are unable to be taken care of by their parents. According to Donna Butts, Generations United’s executive director, no policy or program should impede a child from accessing this right. Even if most social assistance does not have grandfamilies in mind when being designed, the main objective should still be to guarantee all children feel safe and loved by being surrounded by family or loved ones. This connection is an essential part of shaping one’s future and aiding in development as a mature individual. Despite differences in structure, environments become optimized when strong bonds are formed emotionally and biologically between caregivers and youngsters. By essentially creating an umbrella of love, these situations demonstrate true familial passion while giving kids the security they need to continue striving forward.

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Although there have been some efforts made at a national level to address food insecurity—such as The White House’s national strategy to reduce hunger—more needs to be done on a local level to support grandfamilies during this crisis. State governments should consider creating kinship navigator programs that connect grandparents and other caregivers with support services in their communities, such as housing assistance or nutrition supports like SNAP benefits or WIC eligibility. Additionally, states should expand access to SNAP benefits based on child need rather than household income and improve outreach for WIC program eligibility among grandfamiles so that all family members or close friends raising children have access to necessary nutrition supports available in their communities.

Grandfamiles Disproportionately Impacted by Food Insecurity

This article took a look at how grandparent-headed households have been disproportionately impacted by food insecurity during the pandemic compared to other populations of caregivers raising children without their parents or guardians due to job losses and economic instability caused by COVID-19 restrictions. We explored some potential policy changes that could help provide more support for these families so they can access resources like SNAP benefits or WIC eligibility programs available in their community despite financial constraints due to poverty or unemployment during these difficult times. It is essential that policymakers continue working together with advocates and organizations dedicated to end hunger so that all family members raising children without their parents can afford nutritious meals each day – no matter what circumstances they may find themselves in during this unprecedented time period!

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