October 11, 2019

Across the U.S., over 2 million children are raised by grandparents and other extended family and family friends when parents are unexpectedly unable to provide care (e.g., due to parental substance abuse, incarceration).The formation of “grandfamilies” provides stability in times of uncertainty, offering numerous positive benefits for both children and caregivers.

As the number of grandfamilies continues to rise, data on the state of grandfamilies is growing, including alarming data pointing to grandfamilies’ vulnerability to poverty and hunger. To elevate the unique challenges grandfamilies face — and to highlight the importance of the federal nutrition programs to addressing those challenges — FRAC, in collaboration with Generations United, collected and shared real-life narratives of grandparents raising grandchildren. Below is a selection of these narratives, first shared during this year’s Grandparents Day (September 8).*

Many grandfamilies struggle with tight household budgets: Grandfamily caregivers are often over age 60, retired, or living on a fixed income — factors that can leave caregivers resource-strapped and with strained budgets, making caring for and feeding a household difficult. June, a grandparent from Ohio, speaks on the financial struggles many grandfamilies face.

Grandfamilies may rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal nutrition programs to make ends meet: Inadequate access to nutritious meals can adversely impact the health and well-being of children and older adults. Fortunately, the federal nutrition programs can help connect those in need with healthy food. Grandparents Sandra, from Utah, and Kari, from Washington, describe the critical food assistance they have received from SNAP.

Grandchildren being raised by grandparents may lean on school meals to remain fed, healthy, and thriving: Many grandfamilies are forced to stretch their food budgets to get by. School breakfast and school lunch help provide good nutrition to children, helping to reduce child food insecurity and support health and learning. School meals also help lessen the financial strain many grandfamilies face by freeing up food budgets for other expenses. Grandparents Barbara, from Oklahoma, and Brooke, from Ohio, detail how school meals have contributed to the well-being of their grandchildren and households.

*Some of the names of the featured grandparents have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals and maintain anonymity.

Explore FRAC.org for resources for strengthening and protecting the federal nutrition programs to ensure more households, including those with grandfamilies, have access to nutritious, healthy food.

Click to Tweet: For #FRACChat, 5 grandparents raising grandchildren share the unique challenges they face — and highlight the importance of the federal nutrition programs to addressing those challenges — with @fractweets and @GensUnited: bit.ly/33rCr8x