Check Out These Fact Sheets on Rural Hunger

In rural areas that grow most of our nation’s food, households face considerably deeper struggles with hunger than those in metropolitan areas. Millions of working families, veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, and children in rural communities cannot always afford and access enough food for an active, healthy life.

Poverty Data Highlight the Need for a Strong Safety Net

The U.S. household poverty rate decreased in 2016, according to today’s Census Bureau annual release of income, poverty, and health insurance data. The poverty rate went from 13.5 percent in 2015 to 12.7 percent in 2016, a decline that returns the poverty rate (after almost a decade) to the statistical equivalent of the pre-recession rate in 2007.

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Quick Facts

  • More than 41.2 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.
  • One in six households with children cannot buy enough food for their families.
  • 43.1 million people (13.5 percent) lived in poverty in 2015, down from 14.8 percent from the year before. This is the largest drop in poverty since 1999.
  • 19.7 percent of children under 18 lived in poverty in 2015.
  • The 2015 poverty rate was 24.1 percent for the Black population and 21.4 percent for the Hispanic population.

What You Need to Know About Hunger in America

  • Who is hungry?
    Over 41 million Americans live in households that struggle against hunger. These are working families struggling to make ends meet, our veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, and the most vulnerable population — children.
  • Solutions for hunger and poverty
  • Public attitudes toward hunger
     The survey says…Americans look to government to solve hunger
    Americans believe that hunger is an extremely serious issue and look to the government for leadership to solve it.

    About the Survey:
    This bipartisan survey was conducted by Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican firm, to gauge Americans’ attitudes and perceptions of hunger, and follows up on research (pdf) the two organizations commissioned in 2011.  A total of 1,558 adults across the United States age 18 and over were interviewed online from July 29 through August 6, 2014.

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, hunger and poverty must be a part of that conversation.

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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.
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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.
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SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger for millions of Americans. The recent census data shows that SNAP lifted 4.6 million people out of poverty in 2015. 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

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  • Best Practice

    School meals programs provide children with the opportunity to receive the nutrition they need throughout the school day. Many households participate in school meals programs to ensure that their children are fed when they are away from home. There are various instances, however, when a household that is not certified for free or reduced-price school meals may not be able to pay for school meals. Reasons for the lack of money on the school lunch account can vary from a change in household income status, a misunderstanding of school meal procedures, or simply forgetting to refill the account. When this occurs, school districts should ensure that communication about the debt is held with the households and not the students. There are several effective strategies for outreach and engagement with households that have school meal debt.

    Read more
  • Fact Sheet

    This fact sheet, from the National Women’s Law Center and the Food Research & Action Center, describes how SNAP helps lift and keep low-income women and families out of poverty, and highlights how proposed changes to SNAP in the 2018 House Farm Bill would harm women and families.

    Read more
  • Fact Sheet

    The Afterschool Nutrition Programs fill the hunger gap that exists after school for millions of low-income children in rural communities. The programs, which include the Child and Adult Care Afterschool Meal Program and the National School Lunch Program Afterschool Snack Program, provide federal funding to afterschool programs operating in low-income areas to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under after school, on weekends, and during school holidays.

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  • Fact Sheet

    The Summer Nutrition Programs can fill the hunger gap that exists during summer break for millions of low-income children in rural communities. Pairing summer meals with summer programs addresses the loss in learning that too many low-income children experience over the summer months.

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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.