October 11, 2021

Food Security icon Food Security

Nearly a quarter of California households with children are affected by food insecurity (1) -- almost double the level prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the lasting negative impacts this has on children’s health, addressing our growing food insecurity catastrophe is essential.

Defined by the USDA as limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate food, food insecurity is associated with several negative health outcomes in children, many of which are related to brain development. The most important and intense period of brain development occurs from conception to a child’s third birthday (2). If a pregnant mom and her baby are undernourished during this period, the baby misses out on key brain development that cannot be recouped later in life. This developmental loss is associated with increased family medical costs, challenges in child educational achievement, and lower lifetime wages (3, 4).

Fortunately, there are established nutritional programs that promote food security, support breastfeeding, and encourage appropriate transitional and toddler nutrition, all of which facilitate optimal brain development and growth during this critical period (5). It’s more important than ever that these vital programs be promoted and strengthened.

Women, Infants and Children

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children. It includes purchasing assistance for healthy food, breastfeeding support, and tailored nutrition counseling. WIC can help stave off the negative health impacts of...

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