Many low-income families must choose between buying groceries and paying the rent, especially at the end of the month, when nutrition assistance benefits typically run out. Even families who receive housing assistance are often food insecure, sometimes eating what’s cheap rather than what’s nutritious, or sending children off to school hungry, making it hard for them to concentrate. Teens report enduring hunger in silence or resorting to extreme measures to get food. Many refuse to accept food or assistance in public settings for fear of ridicule or of exposing family vulnerabilities to people they don’t trust.
I don’t always skip [the free school] lunch, but if I don’t have money or am almost out of money, I just don’t eat lunch at all…because I don’t have enough food at home and save it until after.
HOST teen from Portland site
The HOST approach helps housing and service providers recognize the prevalence of family and teen hunger and develop strategies to address it in ways that empower and maintain the dignity of youth and their families.