A staggering number of children experience food insecurity in the United States: more than 1 in 10. Most at risk of food insecurity are those living in single-mother families. However, these children tend to experience lower food insecurity in early and middle childhood when a non-resident father is involved. In-kind support appears to be a particularly important indicator of a fathers' involvement for children both in early and middle childhood.
Steve Garasky and Neha Nanda contributed to a study that examined how child food insecurity is associated with involvement of non-resident fathers. To do this, researchers used two sets of nationally representative panel data of children in the early and middle years of childhood. Researchers found that overall non-resident father involvement is associated with lower levels of child food insecurity, though the effects vary among specific measurements of involvement. For example, fathers' provision of in-kind support had consistent protective effects against child food insecurity, for both groups of children studied. In contrast, fathers' irregular provision of cash support was associated with greater food insecurity for children in middle childhood, as opposed to no cash support at all.
The results of this study show the positive impacts that non-resident father involvement can have on children. When discussing policy options related to child poverty, child support, and all-around child well-being, involvement outside of the formal child support system must be considered.