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.
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.
- 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.
Who is impacted by hunger?
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.
EducationThe 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.
Health careResearch 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.
EconomySNAP 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 & DataSee More Resources
- GuideSummer Nutrition and Enrichment Programs: Effective Tools to Support Child Food Security, Health, and Learning During the Summertime
During the summer, far too many children and adolescents experience food insecurity, weight gain, and learning loss, compromising their health and ability to thrive during summer break and beyond. A key strategy to address these issues is to connect more students — especially low-income students — to high-quality summer meal and enrichment programs, which support student food security, health, and learning. This brief first summarizes important research on summertime food insecurity, weight gain, and learning loss, and then describes the value and effectiveness of the federal Summer Nutrition Programs and summer enrichment programming.Read the report
FRAC’s communications toolkit for states includes a model news release for states to customize, sample social media, graphics, a video, and more.Learn more
Kansas communities have come together to serve thousands more meals year after year to kids through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). SFSP in Kansas: Replicable Strategies to Increase Summer Meals Participation highlights best practices to expand SFSP and demonstrate replicable strategies for advocates in other states.Read the report
- Advocacy Tool
This primer examines the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in improving the health, nutrition, and well-being of millions of senior adults (age 60 and older) struggling against hunger, and it summarizes opportunities to expand this vital program to reach more seniors across the country.Read the report