Nearly half of all US children and 90% of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher, researchers say. The estimate comes from an analysis of 30 years of national data, and bolsters other recent evidence on the pervasiveness of youngsters at economic risk.
"Your neighbor may be using some of these programs but it's not the kind of thing people want to talk about," says lead author Mark Rank, a sociologist at Washington University in St. Louis. The authors say it's a medical issue pediatricians need to be aware of because children on food stamps are at risk for malnutrition and other ills linked with poverty. "This is a real danger sign that we as a society need to do a lot more to protect children," Rank said. (Read more food stamps stories.)