NEARLY half of all US children, including an overwhelming majority of black children, will eat meals at some point during their childhood paid for by food stamps, an indicator of poverty, a study showed.
"If you get food stamps, you are by definition in poverty and your household doesn't have many assets," study co-author Mark Rank of Cornell University said.
"The fact that half of American children at some time during their childhood find themselves in this position really ought to be a wake-up call to America."
The study found that 49.2 per cent of all American children will at some point live in a home that receives food stamps.
Among black children and children living in single-parent households, the percentage is much higher - around 90 per cent live in homes that receive food stamps at one stage or another.
Nearly all black children in single-parent homes where the head of household has less than a high school education live in financial and food insecurity during part of their childhood.
The study, which was published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, was based on an analysis of a 32-year study of some 4800 US households.
It concluded that American children face the highest levels of poverty and social deprivation of any children growing up in Western developed nations and they have the flimsiest social safety net to fall back on.
"It's always been weak, particularly compared with European countries or Canada or other industrialized countries," Prof Rank said.
"One of the reasons why our rates of poverty are so high is because we do so little in terms of trying to protect families from getting into poverty.
"We have to cast our safety net wider." Prof Rank concluded.
The Courier Mail