The State of Childhood Hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula

Girl smiling at a food distribution

Girl smiling at a food distribution

In the state of Michigan, at least 1 in 8 children is food insecure—meaning their families can’t always access or afford enough food for them to live healthy, active lives. In some counties in our service area, child food insecurity rates are even higher.

Child hunger keeps kids from reaching their full potential. When children face hunger, they experience diverse challenges. Some of the major effects of a child experiencing hunger are:

  • Poor academic performance. Children who experience food insecurity may have trouble focusing and learning in school.
  • Increased health problems. Kids who don’t get enough food to eat face higher risks of health conditions like anemia and asthma.
  • Developmental differences. Hunger can change how a child’s brain and body grow and affect their thinking, learning and behavior.

Families with children are more likely to face hunger, and this is especially true for single-parent families.

At Feeding America West Michigan, we take action every day to help fill the plates for kids in need of food. Whether that be through Mobile Food Pantries, Gather 2 Grow, partner food pantries, youth programs or meal programs—we know food is essential for kids to be able to learn, grow and thrive.

We prioritize collaborating with our community so that we can work collectively to end hunger. No child should have to worry about an empty stomach instead of focusing on what’s important for their development.

Causes of child hunger:

  • Low family incomes
  • Sudden loss of employment
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Food waste
  • Unexpected medical complications

How you can help kids in your community:

Learn! Listening to the stories of our neighbors in need is vital to understanding the importance of ending hunger. You can also keep an eye out for studies from the USDA ERS and the Feeding America national organization to learn about the impact hunger has on families and kids in need.

Share! You have an influence on those around you, so tell your friends and family about what you learn. You can share information from the food bank’s social media (@feedingwestmich) and from our website ( You can also write or call your local lawmakers to tell them how essential it is to fight child hunger—whether through the food bank and our partners, or through government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Have a story of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Give time! Volunteer at the food bank and help provide up to 200 meals in just one hour! Or find one of our partner food pantries, meal programs or Mobile Food Pantries to get involved and directly serve your neighbors in need.

Give food! Host a food drive and collect some of our most needed items—like peanut butter, pasta, soup and canned meat—which is an especially fun way to engage kids in the mission! Or consider hosting a virtual food drive, which helps the food bank provide more nourishing food than most people could collect on their own! More information can be found here.

Give funds! Every $10 donated to the food bank provides 150 nourishing meals to food-insecure families in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The food bank is able to stretch a dollar much further than if someone were to purchase food on their own.

*Information on this page is sourced from Feeding America the national organization as well as internal data.