Food insecurity directly impacts physical health and is associated with adverse developmental, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes. Moreover, it can contribute to achievement gaps between low- and high-income children.

The purpose of this brief is to describe the prevalence of food insecurity among SDP households that responded to the District-Wide Survey (DWS) in 2021-22 and to examine the differences in food insecurity rates across different student demographic groups and schools. This brief follows food insecurity briefs for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, and provides year-over-year comparisons of food insecurity rates from DWS results from 2019-20 to 2021-22.


The School District of Philadelphia District-Wide Survey for parents and guardians includes the USDA Six-Item Short Form questions that evaluate household food insecurity. The rate of food insecurity among responding SDP households in 2021-22 was 20%.

The 2021-22 District-Wide Survey for students included a question derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey that asks about student hunger. Twenty-seven percent of student respondents indicated that they had gone hungry in the previous 30 days due to a lack of food at home “sometimes,” “most of the time,” or “always.”

In 2021-22, the District-Wide Survey for principals asked whether food insecurity was a challenge to student learning. Forty percent of responding principals identified food insecurity as a “great” or “moderate” challenge.