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Latino Daily News

Wednesday September 7, 2011

Latino Immigrant Children More Likely to Go Hungry

Latino Immigrant Children More Likely to Go Hungry

Photo: Latino Immigrant Children Likely to go Hungry

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Nearly one in five children in the United States lives in a family that struggles to put food on the table, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Latino children of immigrants are even more likely to be at risk of hunger, according to by Bread for the World Institute.

More than 30 percent of Latino children live in households where they don’t get enough to eat, and a third of Latino families rely on food banks to help feed their families. Recent U.S. Census Bureau poverty figures show that more than one in four Latinos lived below the poverty line in 2009, and 56 percent of immigrant children live in low-income families.

“More than half of immigrant children in the United States live in impoverished households where food is scarce,” said Ivone Guillen, immigration policy fellow at Bread for the World Institute. “Sadly, many children do not participate in federal safety-net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly food stamps) and free school meals because of current laws that restrict their use by both undocumented and legal immigrants.”

Latino immigrant children suffer higher rates of hunger because their parents don’t apply for federal government assistance because of their immigration status, or because of a lack of knowledge about these programs and language barriers. “Some immigrant parents believe they will be deported to their countries, but that is not true,” Guillen said. “They can apply for government assistance because their kids are U.S. citizens.”

Federally-funded safety-net programs that helped keep millions of Americans from going hungry in 2010 are currently on the chopping block as Congress resumes deficit-reduction talks this week. The next phase of the battle to balance the budget and reduce the deficit now falls on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—or “Super Committee”—which must identify $1.5 trillion in federal deficit reductions.

SNAP is one program being considered. More than 45 million Americans—one in five—currently receive SNAP benefits. Some lawmakers have proposed deep cuts and changes to SNAP that will result in millions of Americans going hungry. SNAP participation has increased in recent years due to high rates of unemployment.

“We urge lawmakers to continue to form a circle of protection around programs that are vital to hungry and poor people,” added Guillen.