In the media, hunger is often depicted with the crying faces of small children. But the reality is that food insecurity has profound impact on every member of the family—no matter what their age. The statistics in this country alone are staggering—estimates pin the number of children ages 10 to 17 suffering from hunger in the United States at nearly 7 million.
Hunger doesn't just mean individuals going to bed with an empty stomach—it means serious societal problems for everyone. A new report from the Teens and Hunger Project from Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, shows that food insecurity among teenagers has wide-ranging social effects that include "risky and potentially dangerous behaviors."
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The study surveyed 193 teenagers ages 13 to 18 in 10 communities around the United States. Some key findings were no surprise—fear of being stigmatized by their peers led teens to hide their issues and refuse food or assistance; a feeling of responsibility towards younger siblings means that many teens who go hungry choose to skip meals so other family members can eat; and while most teens who suffer from food insecurity would like to earn money through legal employment, oftentimes it's not possible in their communities.