More Americans Than Ever Are Going Hungry
Posted by Olu Johnson
The number of Americans lacking consistent access to food is at the highest level since government records began. This represents an increase of 13 million people from last year. More than 49 million Americans are in households struggling with what the report calls 'food insecurity.' Those with very high food insecurity - which amounted to a third of the total number - were households that either did not have enough money food; or forced members of the household to skip meals, cut portions or otherwise go without food at some point in the year. According to the USDA press release:
- The other two-thirds generally had enough to eat, but only by eating cheaper or less varied foods and by relying on government aid like food stamps, or visiting food banks and/or soup kitchens. According to the report released by the Department of Agriculture:
- Of the 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007), 32.4 million are adults (14.4 percent of all adults) and 16.7 million are children (22.5 percent of all children).
- 17.3 million people lived in households that were considered to have "very low food security," a USDA term (previously denominated "food insecure with hunger"). That means one or more people in the household were hungry over the course of the year because of the inability to afford enough food. This was up from 11.9 million in 2007 and 8.5 million in 2000.
- Very low food security had been getting worse even before the recession. The number of people in this category in 2008 is more than double the number in 2000.
- Black (25.7 percent) and Hispanic (26.9 percent) households experienced food insecurity at far higher rates than the national average.
In California as a whole, 16% of the population had low or very low food insecurity - a situation that is most likely being compounded by the state's continued rising unemployment.
In the Bay Area, the situation is no less grim. According to United Way's Laura Escobar, who directs our Emergency Food and Shelter Program, "Here in the Bay Area, as an increasing number of families have turned to food banks and pantries, it has become harder to meet the demand."
"Most food banks and pantries are reporting an average of 40% increase in demand for their programs since January 2009. Families who are new to the programs and have never asked for assistance are coming in at an unprecedented rate," she said.
If you would like to help, make a food or monetary donation to your local food bank, start a food drive, or volunteer at pantry or soup kitchen. Every bit helps.