Parents Group: Two-Thirds of Parents Report They Are Struggling Financially Ahead of Thanksgiving; 70% of Families Struggling Say Their Biggest Challenge is Affording Food

Families Are Facing Widespread Economic Instability as Congress Heads Home Without Addressing Urgent WIC Funding Needs or the Child Care Crisis

November 17, 2023– According to a new survey from ParentsTogether Action, a nonprofit family advocacy organization with more than 3 million members, over two-thirds of mostly lower and middle income parents surveyed said that they are struggling to make ends meet this Thanksgiving – with 7 in 10 of those facing financial hardship struggling to afford food.

  • More than two-thirds of parents (68%) surveyed said they were “struggling to make ends meet,” with an additional 23% of parents reporting that their families sometimes faced financial struggles.
  • Of the 68% of parents who reported they were currently struggling to make ends meet, 70% reported their biggest challenge was affording food. Others said that affording heat and utilities ahead of the holiday season (55%) and paying for essentials (54%) were their biggest challenges.
  • Of those struggling to afford food, six in ten families have had to change their brands of food they purchase (60%) or reduce healthy food options (62%). Large numbers of those reporting struggling with food have had to rely on assistance either from food banks (45%) or from the government, via SNAP or WIC (34%). And 38% of parents reported that they’ve skipped meals to ensure their children have enough to eat.

ParentsTogether Action’s poll surveyed more than 600 parents in their membership network between November 14-17.

This week, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government from shutting down, but failed to address urgent funding needs directly impacting families. If Congress does not soon pass additional funds for WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), the program may have to soon start turning away eligible families. And last month, the Biden administration requested $16 billion in emergency funding from Congress to rescue the child care sector, which is expected to lose 3.2 million spots as over 70,000 providers have to shut their doors in the coming months. 

As these new challenges threaten to make raising children even harder for millions, the survey findings reveal that the end of pandemic-related programs have already piled up, leaving parents without multiple areas of vital support as they struggle to meet their families’ basic needs. 

  • 28% of respondents said they have recently experienced a decrease in their SNAP benefits
  • 19% of respondents have recently had to start repaying their student loans 
  • 15% said they had experienced an end to free school meals for their children
  • 11% of respondents said they had been informed that they or their children may soon lose Medicaid coverage due to continuous enrollment ending
  • 8% said they had experienced an increase in child care prices

“As Thanksgiving approaches and members of Congress head home to celebrate with their families, the sobering reality for millions of families is that it will be extremely difficult to get food on the table. Parents are telling us they are foregoing meals or changing the foods they buy in order to afford food for their kids,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether. “But instead of responding to this crisis by offering families relief, Congress left town without even bothering to pass urgently needed WIC funding to allow the program to continue offering nutrition assistance to almost half of all new babies born in this country. If Congress doesn’t act in the coming weeks, we could see waitlists for the program for the first time in decades. These telling decisions from our government aren’t going unnoticed – parents are paying attention.”