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Food Insecurity and Hunger in the Kindergarten Classroom: Its Effect on Learning and Growth


  • Joshua Winicki,

    1. Winicki: Economist, American Institutes for Research, 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. E-mail
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  • Kyle Jemison

    1. Jemison: Economist, Economic Research Service—USDA, 1800 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. E-mail
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      This is a revision of a paper presented at the Western Economic Associaltion International annual Conference, San Francisco, July 6, 2001, in a session organized by Joshua Winicki, American Institute for Research, Washington, DC. The authors thank Craig Gundersen, Parke Wilde, David Figlio, participants in the session in which it was presented, and two anonymous referees.


This study investigates the correlation between food insecurity, educational achievement, and health among kindergarten children in the United States. Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort are used to analyze educational achievement and physical growth of kindergartners faced with food insecurity. The results demonstrate that children begin to experience the effects of food insecurity even at the most marginal level of household food deprivation. Children in households with any signs of food insecurity score lower and learn less during the school year.