Reality Check: 1 in 6 Americans and 1 in 4 children at risk of hunger

January 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm 2 comments

“Are You Hungry?”  from Pearl Snaps’ Ponderings:

On January 15th I had the opportunity to help out at a local soup kitchen in Frankfort, KY with some of the members of the church I recently started attending.  I think that was truly the first time I had ever come face to face with people who truly did not know where their next meal may come from.  Up until this point, I had been aware of the problem but never really had been exposed or had to deal with it in real life.  This led me to do some research into the problem of food insecurity in our nation.

A recent study, Food Security in the United States, conducted by USDA and Feeding America was released in November of 2010.  The results were a little alarming to me.  Hunger is at an all-time high in this country, with 1 in 6 Americans at risk of hunger.  In 2009, more than 50 million Americans and 1 in 4 children were at risk of hunger.

Of the households surveyed, 14.7% were food insecure, meaning they did not have access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.  9% had low food security and did not have to skip meals but still lived under tight food budgets and received federal food program assistance.

The demographics of the study found that households below the poverty line made up 43% of food insecure groups.  Single mothers and children came in at a close second at 36.6%.  High risk groups for food insecurity included blacks, hispanics, and households with children under 6 years of age.

Improvements in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program seemed to help some families, however there is still much to be done to solve this issue.  The recession has played a major role in increasing food insecurity in America.  With the worsening of economic times, those seeking assistance from food banks increased 46% from 2006.

With this increase in food insecurity, it makes me wonder how the rises in food prices during the next year will affect these people’s ability to feed themselves.  USDA predicts that food prices may increase 2-3% in 2011.  The projected rise comes after a stretch of relative price stability in recent years.  The causes include rising commodity prices, shrinking supplies of key ingredients and increasing demand for corn-based ethanol for vehicle fuel.  Food assistance programs will be more important now than ever for these families, along with the donations of both time, help, and food by food banks and soup kitchens like the one in Frankfort.

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