One in five Vermont children experiences hunger or food hardship. Many Vermonters find this number surprising. In the United States, a country with so much wealth, it is inconceivable that there are people who struggle to meet their basic needs. And yet, hunger is a daily reality for Americans in every state. Lack of affordable housing, low wages, high unemployment, a decrease in the number of local, affordable grocery stores, and lack of public transportation all contribute to hunger and food insecurity in Vermont.

Food Insecurity in Vermont (2012-2014, 3 year average from US Census): Food insecurity is defined as the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources.

  • 13% of all Vermont households are food insecure1
  • More than 20,000 children under 18 live in food insecure households (17%)2
  • Nearly 80,000 Vermonters of all ages live in food insecure households (13%)2

Food Insecurity with Hunger in Vermont (2012-2014, 3 year average from US Census): Households that are classified as food insecure with hunger are those in which adults have decreased the quality and quantity of food they consume because of lack of money to the point where they are quite likely to be hungry on a frequent basis, or in which children's intake has been reduced due to lack of family financial resources, to the point that children are likely to be hungry on a regular basis and adults' food intake is severely reduced.

  • 6% of all households are food insecure with hunger1

The effects of hunger on children can be detrimental to their health, well-being, and lifelong success. Children living in food insecure homes are at greater risk for poor health, nutritional deficiencies and obesity/overweight, as well as developmental delays, poor academic achievement, depression, and increased aggressive or hyperactive behavior.

Hunger and obesity exist in the same households. Learn more about this paradoxical correlation.

Federal Nutrition Programs Improve Health and Well-Being

Participation in 3SquaresVT (formerly Food Stamps): reduces food insecurity and improves children’s diet quality; decreases risk of poor health, anemia, diabetes, and malnutrition; increases achievement in math and reading; and is associated with decreases in child abuse.
Participation in school and out-of-school time meals: reduces risk for diabetes and obesity in school-age children and improves student behavior, social interactions, and academic performance
Participation in child care meal programs: provides foods higher in important nutrients that are crucial as a young child’s brain is still developing


1 “Household Food Security in the United States, 2014,” The food insecure households with hunger are a subset of the total food insecure households.

2 Data on Vermont children living in food insecure homes from 2012-2014 Current Population Survey of the US Census, through DataFerrett.

3 Data from 2010 Vermonter Poll.

4 Emergency food data from “Report on the 2008 Survey of Vermont Food Shelves and Community Kitchens,” Planning, Policy and Regulation Unit, Economic Services Division, VT Dept for Children and Families, April 2008.

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