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U.S. hunger stats stable, but at record high
Whitney Jones, Religion News Service
November 22, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

U.S. hunger stats stable, but at record high

U.S. hunger stats stable, but at record high
Whitney Jones, Religion News Service
November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON

— The number of Americans struggling with hunger remained stable in 2009

despite the economic downturn, but remained at the highest recorded level,

according to new federal figures.

The U.S.

Department of Agriculture released statistics Nov. 15 that showed one in seven

American households could not buy adequate food last year due to lack of money

and other resources.

The number

of people suffering from “food insecurity” increased only one-tenth of a

percentage point from 2008, but that number is almost more than 4 percentage

points higher than it was 10 years ago, and the highest since 1995.

“It could

be worse,” said David Beckmann, president of the ecumenical anti-hunger group

Bread for the World, in an interview with CNN. “I was struck that the numbers

did not increase from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009.”

The

poverty rate increased by 3.8 million people — a little more than 1 percent —

during the same time frame, according to a Census Bureau report released in

September.

The three

largest federal nutrition programs — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps; the Special Supplemental

Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; and the National School

Lunch Program — have all seen an increase in need, the USDA said.

More than

half of food-insecure households participated in at least one of these

assistance programs, according to the report, with SNAP showing the sharpest

increase (5.3 million people) in average monthly participation.

Hunger was

more prevalent in large cities than in rural areas and suburbs, and was

substantially higher in black and Hispanic families.

Kevin

Concannon, undersecretary for the USDA Food Nutrition and Consumer Services,

said the USDA anticipates that “food security will improve as the economy

improves, but in the near term, without these benefits, many families would

face far more severe problems getting the nutritious food they need.”