September 9, 2015
Contact: Christy Felling
Washington, D.C. — The United States Department of Agriculture today released the latest food insecurity numbers, which provide a detailed look at hunger in America. Here are six key take-aways from “Household Food Security in the United States in 2014.”
Americans Are Hungry: The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure remained essentially unchanged from 2013 to 2014: 14.0% of households in 2014 were food insecure compared to 14.3% in 2013 (not significantly different);
Kids Are Hungry: 20.9% of US children lived in food insecure households in 2014 (a decline from last year’s 21.4%). This still means 1 in 5 kids live in families struggling to consistently put food on the table;
The Trend - Slight Dip But Still In Danger Zone: According to the USDA, food insecurity is “essentially unchanged” since 2012 (14.5%) to 2014 (14.0%). There is a slight drop from the 2011 high of 14.9%, but the nation remains well above the pre-2008 recession levels, which traditionally hovered around 11%.
Most At Risk: Rates of very low food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for: Households with incomes below 185% of the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by a single parent, Black and Hispanic households, and households located outside metropolitan areas. (The federal poverty line, by the way, was $24,008 for a family of 4 in 2014.)
State Breakouts: The states suffering from the highest food insecurity numbers are Mississippi (22%), Arkansas (19.9%), Louisiana (17.6%), Kentucky (17.5%) and Texas (17.2%). The states with the lowest food security rates are North Dakota (8.4%), Massachusetts (9.6), New Hampshire (10.1%), Virginia (10.1%) and Minnesota (10.4%).
Programs Are A Lifeline but Underutilized: There remains a gap in program participation, with only 61% of food insecure households participating in one or more key nutrition programs (WIC, SNAP, School Lunch, etc.) in the month prior to the survey.
Share Our Strength's founder and CEO, Billy Shore, released the following statement about these new numbers and what they mean in the quest to end childhood hunger in America:
Hunger is a reality for millions of kids in this nation. According to these new numbers, 1 in 5 are fighting to learn, grow and prosper while combatting the gnawing stress of an empty stomach.
This hunger leads to more than just empty stomachs; kids who struggle with hunger struggle with schoolwork. They tend to have lower test scores and are less likely to graduate. They are at higher risk for expensive, avoidable health conditions that follow them into adulthood. In this way, hunger impacts every American.
There is good news. As a nation, we are able to reach many of these children with food they need through federal nutrition programs. Millions of children in need, for example, are able to get a free school lunch. Just over half of these kids, however, also get a nutritious school breakfast. It becomes more of a struggle over the summer, when only 15% of these kids in need are able to get a free summer meal.
This underscores the important work happening right now on Capitol Hill, where our lawmakers are working on reauthorizing the laws that govern, among other things, whether or not kids are able to get the nutrition they need over the summer months. With a few adjustments to the existing program, it can work more effectively in more places, ultimately connecting as many as 6.5 million more children to the food they need in the summertime.
Childhood hunger is a crisis in this nation, but it is a crisis with a solution. Marshalling our collective resolve, we can make this a nation where children the basic nutrition they need to grow up smart, healthy and strong. And a stronger generation of children means a stronger America.
To speak to Mr. Shore about the new food security numbers, please contact Christy Felling at email@example.com or 202.320.4483.
ABOUT NO KID HUNGRY No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, are able to get the nutrition they need during the summertime, and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.
ABOUT BILLY SHORE
Billy Shore has been a leader in the fight against hunger since 1984, when he founded the national anti-hunger nonprofit Share Our Strength. In 2010, Share Our Strength created the No Kid Hungry campaign, which is focused on ending childhood hunger in America. Shore is also a Congressional appointee to the National Commission on Hunger, a group tasked with finding innovative ways to end hunger in America.