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Hunger Among Us

To get started, try our 10-question "Brookings Hunger Quiz" to test your knowledge of hunger and poverty in and around Brookings.

Now click on a topic to learn more:

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Child Hunger in the United States

According to a study published in November, 2009, half of all American children will, before reaching age 20, live in families receiving food stamps. Since an estimated 33% of families who are eligible for food stamps never apply for them, the actual percentage of children living at risk of hunger in this country is even higher than 50%.

Click here to view statistics on the hunger of American children, provided by Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Click here to take a quick quiz on the more general topic of hunger in America.

To learn more about hunger in the U.S., visit the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate national hunger and also to address its root cause, poverty.

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Poverty and Hunger in South Dakota

  • A child is born into poverty in South Dakota every 3 hours (Children's Defense Fund).
  • The poverty line for an individual is $10,830. Add $3,740 for each additional member of a household. For example, a family of four living on less than $22,050 would be living in poverty (Health & Human Services, 2009). The self-sufficiency standard requires twice the income of the poverty threshold.
  • One in 7 South Dakotans lives at or below the poverty line, and is at risk of hunger.
  • 61% of SD parents who are poor are in the workforce.
  • According to a study released in July, 2009, 33,000 SD children (1 in 6) live beneath the federal poverty line. That's 17% of all children in the state.
  • 8% (16,000) of all SD children live in extreme poverty.
  • 20% of SD children who are poor are age 5 or younger. This is the age period during which children are most vulnerable to the damaging effects of economic distress.
  • Almost half of those persons served by food pantries in SD are children and infants. In 2004 the state ranked 35th among the 50 states in the percentage of children living in poverty (New Hampshire ranked 1st, with the lowest percentage).
  • The state's chief industry is agriculture, yet the need for food assistance is spreading through farm and ranch communities.
  • Use of food stamps in South Dakota jumped 34% between the fall of 2008 and the fall of 2009. More than one-tenth of South Dakotans now use food stamps, providing eligible households an average of $319 a month for groceries.
  • In 2008 the average monthly participation of South Dakotans in the SNAP/food stamp program was 62,945 individuals. In 2009 73,981 individuals participated (estimated state population, 2009: 812,383).
  • In 2006-2007, 28.9% of SD children were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  • In the first few months of 2009, the number of SD children enrolled in the free School Breakfast Program ranged between 24,000-25,000. Back to top

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Poverty and Hunger in Brookings County

  • According to the 2000 census, about 6.2% of Brookings County families and 14% of the population were living below the poverty line, including 10.10% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
  • In 2007, an estimated 14.4% of Brookings County residents were living below the poverty line.
  • In 2006-2007, 32.8% of the students in Deubrook School District were eligible for free/reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program.
  • In 2006-2007, 18.3% of the students in the Sioux Valley School District were eligible for free/reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program.
  • In 2005-2006 (most recent figures available), 34% of the students in the Elkton School District were eligible for free/reduced-cost meals through the National School Lunch Program.
  • Head Start is a federal program providing comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a special focus on helping preschoolers develop the early reading and math skills they need to be successful in school. A Head Start program for Brookings-area preschoolers is hosted by the First United Methodist Church in Brookings. Due to space limitations, only 40 children are currently allowed to enroll. The need is significantly greater.
  • The number of County residents being served by the Brookings Food Pantry has nearly tripled over the past five years (through late 2009). Back to top


Poverty and Hunger in the City of Brookings

  • According to the 2000 census, about 7.3% of Brookings city families and 18.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over. In 2007, an estimated 18.5% of all Brookings residents were living below the poverty line.
  • In 2007, an estimated 12.5% of Brookings city children were living in poverty. That's more than one child in every ten.
  • When the 2008-2009 school year ended, nearly 22% of Brookings students were participating in the free or reduced-cost lunch program. That's more than one child in every five.
  • The Harvest Table, serving a warm, no-cost meal every Monday night at the Brookings First United Methodist Church, typically hosts 90 families, including 40 children. An estimated 7,000 meals were served in 2008. As of mid-June 2009, 3,550 had been served. Back to top

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How Food-Insecurity, Hunger and Malnutrition Affect Children

Health Consequences

  • Lowered resistance to disease
  • Higher frequency of headaches, colds, dizziness, stomachaches, ear infections and fatigue
  • Inhibited physical growth and unwanted weight loss
  • Poor brain development
  • Greater susceptibility to obesity and its harmful health consequences

Psychosocial and Behavioral Consequences

  • Higher levels of aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety and/or passivity
  • Social problems, difficulties getting along with other children
  • Emotional problems due to low self-esteem and stress
  • Greater need for mental health services

Academic Consequences

  • Impaired thinking and diminished learning capacity
  • Lower test scores and poorer overall school achievement
  • Increased school tardiness, absences and suspensions
  • Tendency to have to repeat a grade

Evidence suggests that a child who experiences learning issues due to hunger and poverty is more likely to be poor as an adult. Back to top

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