Study: Big increase in U.S. families going hungry
Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press
February 03, 2010

Study: Big increase in U.S. families going hungry

Study: Big increase in U.S. families going hungry
Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press
February 03, 2010


Food-assistance agencies nationwide serve 1 million more people each week than

they did four years ago, according to a national study released Feb. 2.

The nation’s network of

food banks and related agencies provide emergency food to 37 million people —

one American in eight — including 14 million children and about 3 million

senior adults, the study revealed. That’s a 46 percent increase over the number

reported four years ago.

The Hunger

in America 2010 report, a comprehensive four-year study conducted by

Mathematic Policy Research for the Feeding America network, provides the first

empirical data demonstrating “an undeniable connection between the recent

economic recession and hunger,” said Jan Pruitt, president of the North Texas

Food Bank in Dallas.

“Hunger across our

nation is growing by leaps and bounds,” she said.

More than one household

in three served by charitable agencies nationwide experiences “very low food

security” — a 54 percent increase in the number of households classified that

way compared to 2006.

About 5.7 million

people receive emergency food aid each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen or

other charitable agency served by one of the more than 200 food banks

associated with the Feeding

America network.

“Clearly, the economic

recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has

driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance

and enrollment in federal nutrition programs,” said Vicki Escarra, president

and CEO of Feeding America, in a news


The report, she

continued, “exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in

our nation don’t have enough to eat. Millions (of) our clients are families

with children finding themselves in need of food assistance for the very first


Hunger in America 2010

reports a 68 percent increase over 2006 in the number of adults seeking food

assistance who have been unemployed for less than one year. Nationally, the

number of children served through the Feeding America network increased 50

percent over the same period.

The report revealed the

hard choices Americans affected by recession and unemployment face. More than

46 percent of the households served the Feeding America network reported having

to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and paying for food.

Nearly four out of 10 said they had to choose between paying rent or a mortgage

and buying food, and more than one-third said they had to choose between

transportation and food.

“It is morally

reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in

six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic

necessities,” Escarra said.

“These are choices that

no one should have to make, but particularly households with children.

Insufficient nutrition has adverse effects on the physical, behavioral and

mental health, and academic performance of children. It is critical that we

ensure that no child goes to bed hungry in America as they truly are our engine

of economic growth and future vitality.”

The study also

dispelled some common myths about people seeking food assistance. It showed

that in Texas, for instance, 84 percent of the clients of food-assistance

programs are U.S. citizens, and 43 percent of the households had at least one

working adult.

Data for the Hunger in

America 2010 study was collected from February through June last year. It

involved more than 62,000 face-to-face interviews with people seeking emergency

food assistance from any of the 63,000 agencies served by a Feeding America

network food bank.


— Camp is managing editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.)