Scarlett Johansson Opened Up About Growing Up With Food Insecurity and Relying on Public Assistance

She’s partnering with Feeding America as 44 million people struggle with food insecurity in the United States.

Earlier this year, Scarlett Johansson shared an op-ed in USA Today after the USDA shared a report that showed that 44 million people (which works out to 1 in 7) in the United States, including 13 million children lived in food insecure households in 2022 — a sharp rise from data pulled in 2021. Today, Johansson, who is a Feeding America Entertainment Council member, shared her own experiences with food insecurity as she was growing up. Teaming with Feeding America, fluent360, and the Ad Council, the Marvel actress revealed that her family relied on public assistance. 

“Growing up, my brother and I went to public school. We were pretty normal kids; we loved playing with our friends and running around at recess. And at lunchtime, we would eat hot meals like most of our classmates. Back then, I didn’t even think twice about the food we ate — I was just happy at school, learning, being a kid,” she shared in the blog post. “Now, as an adult, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for those meals. My family relied on public assistance, and the meals I ate at school were part of the free school lunch program — which provides free breakfast and lunch to students from low-income families.”

With her story out in the open and a video sharing her experiences, Johansson hopes to shine a light on food insecurity and support the Feeding America network of food banks, which provide food for families from coast to coast. Johansson’s clip encourages anyone who wants to help to visit www.feedingamerica.org/actnow to find out how they can get involved.

“With those meals, my brother and I had the nourishment and energy to get through our day of learning and playing, and do all the things healthy kids get to do. And that food supported my growth outside school, too. Being fed and healthy helped fuel my involvement in theater and the arts as a kid, which fostered my love for acting,” Johansson continued. “Now that I have children of my own, the first thing I worry about is making sure they are provided for and that they are fed and nourished. I can only imagine the relief my parents felt, knowing my siblings and I had access to meals at school. Every day, parents are there for their children – to celebrate their successes and support them on their journeys – and no parent should have to worry about where their children’s next meal is going to come from.”

Scarlett Johansson American Cinematheque Awards
AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC

 Scarlett Johansson Thinks We Should All Be Taking More Naps

Johansson’s partners pointed out that her story offers a new perspective on who is effected by food insecurity and how assistance can play a huge role in the lives of families and individuals who may not know when they may have another meal.

“Each person facing hunger has a unique story with an important perspective on what they need to thrive. Futures can be nourished when we center people with lived or living experience in the solutions to fight hunger,” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America CEO, added. “We are thankful Scarlett Johansson is using her voice and experiences to share the possibilities that come from when people are fed. The movement to end hunger is underway in the United States, and if we all work together to center our neighbors who have experienced food insecurity, we can ensure that no one goes hungry in America.”

“We’re so grateful for Scarlett Johansson for using her voice and sharing her lived experiences, encouraging individuals to join the movement to end hunger in America,” said Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council. “This powerful new PSA builds on the Ad Council’s longstanding partnership with Feeding America to raise awareness and deepen the public’s understanding of food insecurity. Together, we can create an America where everyone has the nutritious food they need to thrive.”

Johansson concluded with a message of hope not only for the families and children of America, but the whole world. With her latest effort, she believes that she and supporters can spark a change and that there can be a shift in food security around the world.

“I’m proud to support Feeding America — because I believe in a world without food insecurity. I believe in a world where kids have food on their plates and full stomachs,” she wrote in the statement. “Where children thrive and grow and do amazing things — with food to fuel every moment of laughter, discovery, and success.”

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