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Hunger In America Increases, Studies Find

Recent studies published by the USDA and Feeding America find that food insecurity has increased in the United States.

Food Insecurity in the U.S.

Photo: ERS/UDSA

Over 50 million Americans struggle with having enough to eat.

2010 Hunger Reports
Hunger in America | Hunger in Indiana | Hunger Legislation

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Food Insecurity In America

In studies released this week, the USDA and Feeding America reported: “Hunger Reaches Record High: 1 In 6 Americans at Risk of Hunger.”

The USDA’s Food Security in the United States found that that more than 50 million Americans and 1 in 4 children were at risk of hunger in 2009.

14.7 percent of households were food insecure, or did not have “access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members”. Additionally, 9 percent of U.S. households had low food security, or did not have to skip meals but still lived under a tight food budget and received assistance from federal food programs.

The study also detailed the demographics of food-insecure households. Among its findings, households below the poverty line made up 43 percent of food insecure groups, and single women with children were the second largest group at risk of food insecurity at 36.6 percent.

Black and Hispanic households as well as families with children under the age of six all were at greater risk. Census region and area of residences (cities versus country or suburbs, for instance) had roughly equal amounts of food insecurity, and households in Southern and Western cities had a slightly higher risk than other households.

However, the report also finds that improvements on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which was formerly known as the Food Stamps program) helped many families.

Feeding America reports in their study, Hunger in America 2010, that the recession has played a major role in increasing food insecurity in America. As economic times worsened, those seeking assistance from food banks increased 46 percent from 2006.

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Food Insecurity In Indiana

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, published a hunger report that studies the demographics of recipients of emergency food assistance in Indiana.

Data was collected by interviews with individuals who were served by the Feeding America (FA) agencies and food banks, and the study’s findings were echoed the USDA report.

The Indiana FA system served 695,500 people in 2009, and of these households, those with children, black and Hispanic households, and households that lived below the poverty level sought out the most emergency food assistance. In fact, 81 percent of households with children were food insecure. Only 4 percent of individuals using the food banks were homeless.

Struggles with healthcare were another major factor: 57 percent of the food bank clients had unpaid medical or hospital bills and 24 percent lacked or had a member in their household who lacked health insurance.

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Current Legislation In Debate And Its Effect On Food Insecurity

As Congress resumes its session after the midterm elections, two pieces of legislation will be important to fighting the nation’s hunger problem.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has passed the Senate, but is still awaiting action from the House. If passed the bill would work to end childhood hunger by increasing access to free and reimbursed school snacks and meals and promote greater nutrition in school meals in order to fight childhood obesity.

Also important is the 2012 Farm Bill, which determines regulations for farmers and the food industries. Congress’s decisions on how to balance its support for agriculture with its promise to reduce spending will directly affect food policy.

Read More:

  • Food Security in the United States (USDA)
  • Landmark New Study Reveals an Unprecedented Number of Hoosiers Seeking Emergency Food Assistance (Feeding Indiana’s Hungry )
  • New Report: Hunger Reaches Record High 1 in 6 Americans At Risk of Hunger (Feeding America)

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Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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