Poverty and malnutrition hit the Latino community in the US

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Erik Mclean / Pexels

When we talk about child poverty and malnutrition, the first images that come to mind for many are the extreme cases in African countries or, closer to us, in Haiti, the poorest country in Latin America in terms of income per person.

But the reality is that almost no country in the world, including the United States, is exempt from a problem that in many places has been deepened by the pandemic and further complicated by the chronic presence of inflation.

Right here in the United States, almost 7 in 10 low-income families, a high percentage of which are Latino families, reported that it had become more difficult to pay for enough food for their children in the past year, and 9 in 10 attributed this rise to the increase in food prices.

The challenges of feeding children are also spreading to middle-income families, where almost 6 in 10 households face difficulties putting food on the table, at a time when the price of food increased 9.5% in the month of February 2023, compared to February of 2022.

Such are the results of a new survey published by No Kid Hungry, a national campaign that seeks to end childhood hunger in the United States.

It is a dramatic reality that is reflected in the fact that 68% of low-income parents reported that it has become more difficult to buy food in the last year and 74% reported that, in addition to the cost of food, the increase in the costs of other necessities, such as utilities, gas, rent, and clothing, contributed to the difficulty in buying enough food.

More than in five low-income families said an unexpected car repair or unforeseen medical bill made it more difficult for them to pay for enough food for their children. Among middle-income families, 50% reported the same.

A recent UnidosUS survey confirms that it is a situation where Latino families are being disproportionately affected: almost two-thirds of Latinos residing in California, Texas and Arizona acknowledged that they lack savings of even $500 to cover an emergency and three out of 10 had to borrow money from a relative or friend to cover an unforeseen event.

It is obvious that it is not simply a temporary inflationary problem, but rather structural circumstances that must be reformed to achieve better wages for low-income people, cheaper essential services such as health insurance, facilities for low-income families to access to the financial system, and strengthening of federal support programs, such as food stamps.

It is of course a major problem that does not have simple or easy solutions, but an important step is to recognize that it is a major problem in our society, which calls for public and private participation to ensure that the next generations of children can reach their maximum potential.