Things to Know about the American Hunger Struggle
While we've talked a lot about hunger, food insecurity and related topics before, sometimes you really can't understand the scope of hunger until you see the facts.
With that in mind, we've collected 10 striking facts about hunger. Each of these statistics puts in perspective the real scale of the hunger struggle and how important it is that we do something to make sure that no one goes hungry.
Fact: 13.1 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2015.
What this means: 13.1 million is greater than the population of New York City and LA combined. That many children across the US are unsure when their next meal is going to be and what it's going to be.
Fact: A family of four facing hunger may be in need of 34 additional meals a month simply because they don’t have money to buy enough food.
What this means: Can you imagine skipping eight or more meals? That's what the math breaks down to. Eight times a month, when your stomach is empty and you're hungry, you have to wait and go without. That's the reality for many in America.
Fact: 84% of households Feeding America serves report buying the cheapest food—instead of healthy food—in order to provide enough to eat.
What this means: The vast majority of food-insecure households are relying on processed, sugary foods with very little nutritional value to sustain them because that is all they can afford. Without essential nutrients, they lack energy and health to live a full life.
Fact: The world produces more than enough food to feed all 7 billion people alive today.
What this means: Those who go hungry do not have the means to grow their own food or to purchase it. This is, in many cases, due to poor treatment of farmers, unfair wages and other factors outside of the control of those who go hungry.
Fact: 26% of food-insecure individuals earn too much to qualify for most federal nutrition assistance.
What this means: Despite not having enough money to purchase enough healthy food to survive, 1 out of 4 people living in food insecurity does not receive the federal help that they need.
Fact: 57% of food-insecure individuals had to choose between housing and food.
What this means: More than half of the over 46 million people Feeding America serves have to choose between the possibility of being homeless and being hungry.
Fact: 15% of households in rural areas are food-insecure.
What this means: Most rural areas in the US are involved in food production in some way or another, from ranching to farming. About 1 out of every 7 rural households, many of which provide the rest of the country with food, struggles to get enough to eat.
Fact: The 10 counties with the highest food insecurity rates in the nation are at least 65% African American.
What this means: Hunger disproportionately affects African American people. Because of systemic disadvantages, higher rates of poverty and other factors, more African American people struggle with hunger.
Fact: Latinos are less likely to receive help from federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly Food Stamps).
What this means: For food-insecure people, federal assistance is incredibly important and can be the difference between going hungry and getting the food necessary to survive. Many Latinos are not considered for these federal programs and cannot get the help they need.
Fact: The number of food-insecure seniors is expected to increase by another 50% by 2025.
What this means: As more and more people from the Baby Boomer generation can no longer work a full-time, livable wage job, they face struggling with hunger. After working for their entire adult lives, they still might not be able to ensure that they can eat.
These facts are sad, disheartening and in many cases angering, but they paint a clear picture of the hunger struggle in the US. Remember, though, that if these facts upset or bother you, you can make a difference. You can even start now with these ways to make an impact.
The information in this blog comes from Feeding America, whom we are always grateful to for their data and the incredible work that they do.