New Report Finds that More Americans, Particularly Children, are at Risk of Hunger

In every part of the nation, a large number of households is experiencing food hardship — the inability to afford enough food for themselves and their families — according to “How Hungry is America?” a new report by the Food Research & Action Center. The report reveals that, after several years of decline, the national food hardship rate for all households increased from 15.1 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2017.

Find out more

Poverty Data Highlight the Need for a Strong Safety Net

The U.S. household poverty rate decreased in 2017, according to today’s Census Bureau annual release of income, poverty, and health insurance data. The poverty rate went from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 12.3 percent in 2017, a decline that returns the poverty rate (after a decade) to the statistical equivalent of the pre-recession rate in 2007.

Quick Facts

  • More than 40.0 million Americans live in households that struggle against hunger.
  • Households in more rural areas face considerably deeper struggles with hunger than those inside metropolitan areas.
  • Nearly one in six households with children cannot buy enough food for their families.
  • 39.7 million people (12.3 percent) lived in poverty in 2017, down from 12.7 percent from the year before.
  • 17.5 percent of children under 18 lived in poverty in 2017.
  • The 2017 poverty rate was 21.2 percent for the Black population and 18.3 percent for the Hispanic population.

Solutions Exist to End Hunger & Poverty

Hunger in America is a serious issue that requires a serious response. When there is talk about improving opportunities for all Americans through education, health care, and the economy, addressing hunger and poverty must be a part of that conversation.

graduation cap
Education
The last thing on a hungry child’s mind is learning. Children are better equipped to learn when they have the nutrition they need. Yet too many low-income children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals are not accessing them. More must be done to increase participation in school meals, summers meals, afterschool meals, and child care meals.
hospital icon
Health care
Research shows that food insecurity is linked with costly chronic diseases and unfavorable outcomes. According to the Root Cause Coalition, the annual costs of hunger to the U.S. health care system are $130.5 billion. Greater investments in nutrition programs would go a long way in addressing obesity and other negative health outcomes faced by low-income Americans.
money icon
Economy
SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger for millions of Americans. The program also stimulates the economy. Recent census data shows that SNAP lifted 3.6 million people out of poverty in 2016. In addition, USDA research shows that each $5 of SNAP benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity. Federal nutrition programs can’t do it alone. There must be a comprehensive approach.

Recent Publications & Data

See More Resources
  • Report

    Increasing participation in the Afterschool Meal Program requires proactive planning and partnership. Developing a strong and cohesive outreach plan is an important way to increase participation, and the summer months are the perfect time to recruit afterschool sites, ensure existing sites will be returning, engage new partners, and increase awareness. Detailed below are things to consider when developing an afterschool meals outreach plan, as well as best practices shared by Florida Impact, Children’s Hunger Alliance, and the City of Seattle.

    Read the report
  • Report

    Each year, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) analyzes participation data in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). FRAC uses U.S. Department of Agriculture data to develop a picture of participation trends in the U.S as a whole, each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia. This report discusses changes in the number of CACFP child care centers and family child care homes over the past 20 years from fiscal year (FY) 1998 to 2018, the more recent changes from FY 2017 to FY 2018, and the overall increase in average daily attendance.

    Read the brief
  • Report

    This annual analysis shows Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) participation data for child care centers and family child care homes for the U.S. and for each state and the District of Columbia. This report includes a series of graphs and tables that show key findings for fiscal year 2018.

    Read the report
  • Report

    The Summer Nutrition Programs have struggled to meet the need, serving just one child summer lunch for every seven low-income children who participated in school lunch during the regular school year. They are important programs, but their reach is falling far too short of meeting the need.

    Read more
Taking Action
Plan of Action to End Hunger in America
There can be no more excuses for hunger in this country. In our A Plan of Action to End Hunger in America, we recommend eight strategies to reduce the suffering and unnecessary costs caused by struggles with hunger, poverty, and reduced opportunity.