Why Can it Be Hard to Feed a Family? Everyone needs enough nutritious food to live a healthy life. But many people can't get it all the time. This can happen for different reasons, like: not having enough money to buy food being unemployed not having an easy way to get to a store to buy food The community where a person lives also plays a role. Some people have to travel long distances or have few supermarkets or grocery stores nearby. These areas are sometimes called "food deserts." Convenience stores are common in food deserts. They usually have higher food prices and carry a smaller variety of fruits and vegetables. Anyone can have trouble getting enough healthy food. It can happen to adults and kids of any age. Why Is a Healthy Diet Important? Communities with limited affordable and healthy foods tend to have easier access to fast food restaurants. Not having easy access to fruits, vegetables, and important vitamins found in healthy foods can lead to health conditions like low iron levels and obesity. Low iron levels and a diet with lots of sugar can cause behavior problems, such as trouble paying attention, poor memory, and hyperactivity. Children also can have mood changes, increasing their risk for anxiety and depression during the teen years. A healthy diet can help prevent health conditions like asthma and emotional stress. Kids who eat well also tend to be more active. This can help them keep a healthy weight and avoid health problems linked to obesity. Where Can Families Find Food Resources? Children and families may qualify for free and confidential services that can help them find healthy foods. These include: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) WIC provides money for food such as formula, infant cereal, fruits, and vegetables to low-income pregnant women and new moms, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. Find more information online at: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) SNAP helps families with their food budget so they can buy healthy food. Families can buy a variety of foods like fruits and vegetables, meats, and dairy products. You must apply in the state where you live and meet income rules. Find more information online at: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) School Breakfast Program This federal program in public and nonprofit private schools provides free or low-cost breakfast to children based on household income and family size. Find more information online at: School Breakfast Program National School Lunch Program This program provides free and low-cost meals to kids in public and nonprofit private schools based on household income. Find more information online at: National School Lunch Program Summer Food Service Program This program makes sure kids get healthy food when school is out. It provides free meals during the summer to kids and teens 18 years old and younger. Find more information online at: Summer Food Service Program National Hunger Hotline The USDA's National Hunger Hotline connects families with emergency food sources in the community, such as food banks, government assistance programs, and other social services. Call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. EST. Find more information online at: National Hunger Hotline Back to Articles Related Articles Healthy Eating Good nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits. Read More Healthy Food Shopping What you put in the grocery cart can affect your child's health and attitude toward nutritious food. Read More Figuring Out Food Labels Find out how to make healthy food choices for your family by reading food labels. Read More Eating During Pregnancy To eat well during pregnancy, your extra calories should come from nutritious foods that contribute to your baby's growth and development. Read More Pregnant or Breastfeeding? Nutrients You Need Learn which nutrients you need while pregnant or breastfeeding, and easy ways to add them to your diet. Read More Food Safety for Your Family Why is food safety important? And how can you be sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe? Read More Feeding Your Child Athlete All kids need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet. But should that balance change for kids who play on a sports team or work out? Read More MyPlate Food Guide The USDA's food guide icon is designed to make meal planning easy. Here's how to get MyPlate onto your table. Read More After-School Snacks If your kids come in from school and head straight for the kitchen for something to eat, here's how to make sure they still have room for a healthy dinner. Read More Snacks for Toddlers Some toddlers may seem too busy exploring to slow down and eat. Others may be fickle about food or refuse to eat at mealtime. That's where healthy, well-timed snacks come in. Read More Snacks for Preschoolers Healthy and well-timed snacks can help fill in nutritional gaps for preschoolers. But how do you turn yours into a smart snacker? Read More Breakfast Basics Even if you eat a healthy morning meal every day, it can be tough to get kids fueled up. Here's how to make breakfast more appealing. Read More Produce Precautions Kids need daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Here's how to make sure the produce you buy and prepare is safe. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.