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Poverty in the U.S. So Severe Some Teens are Prostituting Themselves for Food

  • Amanda Casanova
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Sep 15
  • Comments

Some teenagers in America are in such desperate need for food that they are doing sex work in exchange for food, according to a new study from Feeding America and the Urban Institute.

The study, called Impossible Choices, included interviews with nearly 200 teenagers from cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and rural towns in North Carolina and Oregon.

“We heard the same story everywhere, a really disturbing picture about hunger and food insecurity affecting the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable young people,” Susan Popkin, the study’s lead author said. “The fact that we heard it everywhere from kids in the same way tells us there’s a problem out there that we should be paying attention to.”

In all 10 of the communities surveyed, the teenage girls said they were “selling their body” as a way for food.

"Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me," Popkin told The Guardian. "It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time."

Also this week, the Census Bureau released its annual poverty report, which said that 43.1 million Americans were in poverty in 2015.

According to, a 2009 survey showed that 18 percent of poor adults reported they were hungry once in the prior year because they could not afford money for food.


Publication date: September 15, 2016