In the months after the advance federal Child Tax Credit cash payments ended in December 2021, low-income families with children struggled the most to afford enough food, research finds.

The loss of the cash relief benefit also disproportionately affected Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant families.

The new study finds that in the months after this policy ended, there was a substantial increase in the percentage of US households with children that could not afford enough food to eat in a seven-day period—a situation known as food insufficiency.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study finds that food insufficiency increased by approximately 25% among families with children from January 2022 to July 2022, after they stopped receiving monthly CTC payments on January 15, 2022. The monthly cash benefits were a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, providing an estimated 92% of US households up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and up to $3,600 per child under age 6 from July 2021 to December 2021, with half of the credit amount distributed as advance monthly payments.

The study is the first to measure the impact of the expired benefits on food insufficiency among households, and it follows the researchers’ previous study in JAMA Network Open, which showed that the CTC expansion reduced food insufficiency by 26% in 2021, findings that President Biden cited during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in late September.

This increase in food insufficiency is an urgent problem, particularly among households with children, as poor nutrition uniquely affects the health and well-being of growing children, say the researchers from researchers at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Boston Medical Center (BMC).

“This significant increase in food insufficiency among families with children is particularly concerning for child health equity, as child health, development, and educational outcomes are strongly linked to their family’s ability to afford enough food,” says study lead and corresponding author Allison Bovell-Ammon, director of policy and communications at Children’s HealthWatch, headquartered at BMC. “Even brief periods of deprivation during childhood can have lasting impacts on a child.”

Read the full article about child hunger by Jillian McKoy at Futurity.