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New Report, “Food Insecurity Among Middle and High School Students in Maryland,” Reveals a Disturbing Reality for 1 in 4 Secondary School Students

The report details food insecurity data obtained for the first time in the most recent Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey/Youth Tobacco Survey (YRBS/YTS).

The data show troubling rates of food insecurity among Maryland’s middle and high school students. Overall, about 1 in every 4 students lack consistent access to the healthy food they need. However, rates of food insecurity vary widely across the state with some counties experiencing rates of over 40%. The risk of experiencing food insecurity is more than double for Black middle and high school students, as compared to White students. Racial disparities also vary by county with some students of color experiencing food insecurity rates that are up to four times higher.

The data presented in this report reflect food insecurity rates experienced by Maryland students in the fall of 2018, before COVID-19. Researchers find that food insecurity in Maryland has more than doubled during the current pandemic.

We need your help to address this crisis. Schools can take action to reduce food insecurity overall, and the unjust and avoidable racial disparities that are a reality for many of our students of color. One of the key recommendations in this report is for schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a federal funding option that enables schools to provide access to free breakfast and lunch to all students. Given rising poverty due to the pandemic, more schools are now CEP-eligible than ever before.

Please contact your district’s Food and Nutrition Department — the deadline to elect CEP is August 31, 2020.

Sincerely,

Nikardi Amorine Jallah
MPH Epidemiologist Maryland Department of Health nikardi.jallah@maryland.gov


Tam Lynne Kelley, LMSW
Senior Manager No Kid Hungry
tkelley@strength.org
(410) 753-4304

Margaret Read
Senior Research and Evaluation Manager
Share Our Strength
mread@strength.org

Tonya Sweat, Esq.
Vice President for Advocacy Maryland PTA
info@mdpta.org

Nonso Umunna
Research Director Advocates for Children and Youth
numunna@acy.org