Every child needs access to an adequate amount of healthy food to thrive. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, too many of Arkansas’s children were facing hunger, especially our Black and Hispanic or Latino children. There is a growing understanding that even when accounting for social and economic factors, disparities among races continue to exist due to structural racism. These are the policies, practices, rules, and standards that have intentionally excluded Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color from the economic progress of the state as a whole.
While data collection issues keep us from having a full picture of the situation, it’s clear the ongoing pandemic has mostly exacerbated hunger rates. This increase seems to have peaked in 2020 and has returned to near pre-pandemic levels for most of the country, though not quite yet in Arkansas. Thankfully, the expansion and prepayment of the Child Tax Credit is expected to help thousands of children and their families.