Campus News

UK Center Wins Grant to Study Childhood Hunger

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 17, 2010) − The issue of childhood hunger is not limited to so-called 'poor' or 'developing' nations. It is a huge challenge here in the United States and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service is looking to the University of Kentucky's Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR) for help in devising effective strategies to confront the problem.

UK Gatton College  professor James Ziliak, Gatton Endowed Chair in Microeconomics and director of UKCPR, and Craig Gundersen, associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois, have been awarded a five-year, $5.5 million grant to establish a research program on childhood hunger.

Ziliak said, "The problem of childhood hunger is getting worse in the U.S., not better. The USDA wants us to establish an integrated, cutting-edge research program that gains greater insight into the extent, causes, and consequences of the problem."

According to recent statistics from the USDA, 14 percent of all American households reported at least some food insecurity and among families with children, the number rises to 21 percent.

"Obviously, some of the strategies which have been tried over the years, while well intentioned, have failed to make a serious dent in reducing childhood hunger," said Ziliak. "Our charge is to help the USDA come up with innovative policy solutions to alleviate the problem."

The program to be funded through this grant is soliciting external research projects through UKCPR. More information on the program and request for proposals is available at When completed, Ziliak and Gundersen, as co-principal investigators, will review the findings and make recommendations to the USDA. 

The University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR) was established in October, 2002 as one of three federally designated Area Poverty Research Centers with core funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The UKCPR is a nonprofit and nonpartisan academic research center housed in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Department of Economics at the University of Kentucky.  The Center’s research mission is a multidisciplinary approach to the causes, consequences, and correlates of poverty and inequality in the United States, with a special emphasis on the residents of the South.

The other two Area Centers are the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington.  The National Poverty Center is located at the University of Michigan.