November 17, 2008
This 2007 Study Fails To Reflect Current Economic Crisis
USDA reported today that 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are food insecure. The Study paints a stark picture of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. But Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization, warns that the actual number of Americans forced to skip meals and survive without adequate nutrition is even greater today, prompting a national appeal for help in feeding hungry men, women and children.
“It is important to note that the USDA numbers released today are 2007 figures and do not take into account the unprecedented economic crisis that our country is currently facing,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “While the numbers reported are tragic, our network typically experiences trends as direct service providers before they are officially reported.
We believe that this is just the beginning of a downward trend and we expect things to get worse before they get better.”
“We serve more than 200 food banks that provide food to the vast majority of food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency feeding centers across the country – more than 63,000 in total,” added Escarra. “These are faith-based organizations, community centers, mobile food pantries set up in parking lots, where more than four million people stand in line every week for just a few bags of groceries to help feed themselves and their families. While emergency food assistance is vital to helping people who have to make tough choices between food and other basic necessities, it’s often times barely enough to make ends meet. We see increases in the number of people in need at the end of the month when our clients have run out of food stamp benefit and spent their meager income on paying necessary bills.”
“Our food banks are calling us every day, telling us that demand for emergency food is higher than it has ever been in our history. They are serving a significant number of new clients – people who were once their donors, middle class workers who can no longer make ends meet, many of the half-million people who have lost their jobs in just the past two months as unemployment has climbed to 6.5 percent,” Escarra said.
Last spring, Feeding America conducted a research study to determine increased need. Across the board, food banks were witnessing an average increased need of nearly 20 percent. In many areas, the percentages were doubled over the previous timeframe in 2007.
“If the data we are reviewing today reflected food insecurity data from the last 12 months, it would be even more shocking,” said Escarra. “Unemployment rates and healthcare costs continue to soar, and there is not an end expected in near sight. The number of middle class working families seeking food is where we are seeing the most growth. We don’t expect the lines to get any shorter at local food pantries anytime soon, and we won’t know how bad it really is until the future USDA numbers is released next year.”
“Hungry Americans and food banks are desperately in need of relief from Congress in an economic recovery package. Food stamp benefits must be increased to enable low-income Americans to purchase adequate food which is a direct economic benefit to the economy. Additionally, food banks inventories are unable to keep pace with the skyrocketing demands for emergency food assistance. We urge Congress to allocate additional dollars for the purchase, storage and transportation of USDA commodities to ensure that our Network is able to continue feeding the millions of additional people in need right now as a result of a weakening economy.”
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks operate 63,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.
Hunger Fact Sheet
Who We Are
America’s Second Harvest — The Nation’s Food Bank Network is now named Feeding America. We are the country’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, with a network of more than 200 regional member food banks serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Each year, we provide food to more than 25 million low-income Americans, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.
The Feeding America network secures and distributes nearly 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. Our efforts support approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 70,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes.
Who We Help
The Feeding America Network provides emergency food assistance to more than 25 million Americans in need every year.
Ethnic Background of Clients
- 40%are white
- 38% are African American
- 17% are Hispanic
- 5% are American Indian or Alaskan Native
- 0.5% are native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
- 1.0% are Asian
- According to our most recent hunger study, 66% of all Feeding America client households have annual household incomes at or beneath the poverty line. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 126.96.36.199)
- 17.5% of all client households have annual incomes between 100% and 185% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 188.8.131.52)
- 6.2% have annual incomes of 186% of poverty or more. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 184.108.40.206)
- The number of people below the poverty threshold numbered 36.5 million in 2006, a rate of 12.3% of all Americans. (U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006)
- The average annual income in 2004 among client households served by the Feeding America Network was $11,210. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 220.127.116.11 )
- An estimated 35.5 million Americans are food insecure; meaning their access to enough food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
- 41.5% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network reported having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or heat within the previous 12 months. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
- More than one-third (35%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
- Nearly one-third (31.6%) of client households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 6.5.1)
- 5.9% of households with seniors (1.59 million households) were food insecure. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
- Over 9 million children are estimated to be served by the Feeding America Network, over 2 million of which are ages 5 and under, representing nearly 13% of all children under age 18 in the United States and over 72% of all children in poverty. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N)
- According to the USDA, an estimated 12.6 million children lived in food insecure households in 2006. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
- Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, particularly for low-income children. 62% of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program, but only 13% participated in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1 )
- 51% of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). (Hunger in America 2006; Table 7.4.1)
- Nearly 41% of emergency food providers in the Feeding America Network reported “many more children in the summer” being served by their programs. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 10.9.1)
- Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families. In 2002, over half of the nonelderly families that accessed a food pantry at least once during the year had children under the age of 18. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)
- The Feeding America Network serves nearly 3 million seniors age 65 and over each year, 2 out of every 10 households served by our network contains at least one member age 65 and over (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.3.2N).
- 83.3% of all households with seniors served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.3.5)
- 30.8% of client households with seniors had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities and heating fuel. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
- Among client households with seniors, nearly 30% have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.5.2)
- Among client households with at least one senior member, 27.4% are served at program sites located in center cities, 25% are served at program sites located in suburban areas, and 18.1% are served at program sites located in rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.3)
- Nearly half of all non-elderly low-income families that used a food pantry in 2001 consisted of working families with children. (Urban Institute, Many Families Turn to Food Pantries for Help, November 2003)
- 36% of client households served by the Feeding America Network include at least one employed adult. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.7.1)
- The average monthly income of client households in 2005 was $860, or 75% of the federal poverty level. Overall, clients indicated that a job was the main source of income for their households for the previous month. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 18.104.22.168 and Table 22.214.171.124)
- 66% of all client households served by the Feeding America Network have annual incomes below the federal poverty line for 2004.
- 46% of client’s households do not have access to a working car. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 126.96.36.199)
- 42.6% of adult clients served by programs in the Feeding America Network reside in suburban or rural areas. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 5.2.1)
- 28.5% of client households served in nonmetropolitan areas reported that their children often or sometimes did not eat enough during the past year because there was not enough money to buy food. (Hunger in America 2006; Table 15.4.1)
- 12% of rural households are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated 2.3 million households. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
- 17.5% of all rural households with children are food insecure (low food security and very low food security), an estimated over 1 million children. (USDA/ERS, Household Food Security in the United States: 2006)
- According to ERS, more than one out of every three persons living in nonmetro families that are headed by a female is poor. The highest poverty rate by type of family is for female-headed, nonmetro families. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)
- Counties with disproportionately high rates of persistent poverty are often rural, with 340 of 386 persistent poverty counties primarily rural. (USDA/ERS, Rural Income, Poverty and Welfare)
The Feeding America Network of over 200 food banks and food rescue organizations distributed nearly 2 billions pounds of food and grocery products in 2005.
- 529 million pounds from national product donors
- 478 million pounds from US Government programs
- 904 million pounds from local product donors
- 206 million pounds from purchase programs
The USDA estimates 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year in the United States.