Food Insecurity Negatively Impacts Child Development

Monday, Apr 15, 2019

Evidence shows that families who experience food insecurity, pass down that psychological stress to their children.  When parents are unable to feed their children, it leads to depression, aggravation, and anxiety.  When parents are in this constant state, that psychological trauma gets passed down to their children; which can have a severe negative impact on child development and their over all well being.

Hungry boy with empty plateAccording to the Center for Poverty Research at UC, Davis:

"Such circumstances have a direct negative impact on children’s behavioral development.[4] For example, heightened parental depression and anxiety prompted by food insecurity has been linked to aggressiveness, anxiety and hyperactivity in three-year-olds."

Considering that 40% of Americans are at risk of poverty, that is an overwhelming amount of our children put at unnecessary risk. In a recent article by Kevin Gee, an Associate Professor of Education at UC Davis and Minahil Asim,  a PhD candidate in education policy at UC Davis, they highlight the detrimental impacts of parenting aggravation and how food insecurity negatively affects children's executive functioning by reducing their ability to pay attention and compromising their self- control. We have selected highlights from the article below, you can read the full article by clicking here.


Posted by: The Center for Poverty Research, UC Davis

Key Facts

  • Parents struggling with food insecurity can experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Parenting aggravation that coincides with food insecurity is negatively associated with children’s executive functioning.
  • Supporting food-insecure parents may improve parenting and thus have benefits both for parents and their children

food insecurity, parenting aggravation, children's functioning

[click here to read the full article]


The study notes the importance of addressing food insecurity from a broader perspective, as it impacts the behavioral development of both the parents along with the children even more so.  There are clear negative consequences surrounding food insecurity in regards to children's executive functioning; including children having issues with self-control and inattentiveness. Long term, these issues can lead to lower performance in their education and schooling, which can then lead to continuing the cycle of becoming food insecure adults. According to the authors, the solution involves two key aspects:

"Supporting food-insecure parents—by stabilizing their access to food, but also with broader psycho-social support—may ultimately have benefits for both parents and their children."

Greater assistance is needed in our communities to support those persons who are food insecure to ensure a brighter future for our children tomorrow. Here at our CAA North State Food Bank, we strive to do just that every day for our community- but more help is needed. Click here to find out more about how you can help us achieve this today! 

Donate to the North State Food Bank


Since 1967, the Community Action Agency of Butte County has been serving the needs of the region in alignment with the charter of the National Community Action Agencies overarching goal: To alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty by whatever means necessary in your community. As Butte County CAA, we provide hope to people struggling with poverty to become more self-sustaining by meeting tangible needs in the areas of energy savings, affordable food, and housing. Connect with us to find out how you can get involved.