Hunger in America, By the Numbers

Hunger in America, By the Numbers

Published: Sunday 27 November 2011
48.8 million: People who lived in food insecure households last year.
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Last year, 17.2 mil­lion house­holds in the United States were food in­se­cure, the high­est level on record, as the Great Re­ces­sion con­tin­ued to wreak havoc on fam­i­lies across the coun­try. Of those 17.2 mil­lion house­holds, 3.9 mil­lion in­cluded chil­dren. On Thanks­giv­ing Day, here’s a look at hunger in Amer­ica, as mil­lions of Amer­i­cans strug­gle to get enough to eat in the wake of the eco­nomic cri­sis:

17.2 mil­lion: The num­ber of house­holds that were food in­se­cure in 2010, the high­est num­ber on record. They make up 14.5 per­cent of house­holds, or ap­prox­i­mately one in seven.

48.8 mil­lion: Peo­ple who lived in food in­se­cure house­holds last year.

3.9 mil­lion: The num­ber of house­holds with chil­dren that were food in­se­cure last year. In 1 per­cent of house­holds with chil­dren, “one or more of the chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enced the most se­vere food-in­se­cure con­di­tion mea­sured by USDA, very low food se­cu­rity, in which meals were ir­reg­u­lar and food in­take was below lev­els con­sid­ered ad­e­quate by care­givers.”

6.4 mil­lion: House­holds that ex­pe­ri­enced very low food se­cu­rity last year, mean­ing “nor­mal eat­ing pat­terns of one or more house­hold mem­bers were dis­rupted and food in­take was re­duced at times dur­ing the year be­cause they had in­suf­fi­cient money or other re­sources for food.”

55: The per­cent­age of food-in­se­cure house­holds that par­tic­i­pated in one or more of the three largest Fed­eral food and nu­tri­tion as­sis­tance pro­grams (SNAP, WIC, School lunch pro­grams.

19.4: The per­cent­age of food in­se­cure house­holds in Mis­sis­sippi, which had the high­est rate in the na­tion last year.3.6 per­cent: The amount by which food prices in­creased last year.

30 per­cent: The amount by which food in­se­cu­rity grew dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion.

44: The per­cent­age in­crease in house­holds using food pantries be­tween 2007 and 2009.

20 mil­lion: The num­ber of chil­dren who ben­e­fit from free and re­duced lunch per day.

10.5 mil­lion: The num­ber of el­i­gi­ble chil­dren who don’t re­ceive their free and re­duced lunch ben­e­fits.

$167.5 bil­lion: The amount that the U.S. lost in 2010 due to hunger (lost ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment + avoid­able ill­ness + char­i­ta­ble giv­ing to fight hunger). This doesn’t take into ac­count the $94 bil­lion cost of SNAP and other food pro­grams.

8: The num­ber of states (FL, TX, CA, IL, NY, OH, PA, GA) where the an­nual cost of hunger ex­ceeds $6 bil­lion.

Last year, “nearly half of the house­holds seek­ing emer­gency food as­sis­tance re­ported hav­ing to choose be­tween pay­ing for util­i­ties or heat­ing fuel and food. Nearly 40 per­cent said they had to choose be­tween pay­ing for rent or a mort­gage and food.” This Thanks­giv­ing, as you sit down to enjoy a meal with fam­ily and friends, please spare a thought for those who, due to the coun­try’s con­tin­u­ing eco­nomic woes, may not have enough to eat.

This hol­i­day sea­son, please con­sider do­nat­ing to a local food bank. You can find one nearbyor do­nate on­line through the Feed­ing Amer­ica web­site. You can also give to Op­er­a­tion Home­front, a group that pro­vides as­sis­tance to mil­i­tary fam­i­lies.

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Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal’s Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s daily student newspaper.

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