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
- Interactive Data Tool
Interactive maps and tables providing state-by-state data on participation in breakfast and lunch service through the Summer Nutrition Programs.Find out more
This primer features information on how to support opportunities to register people to vote through public assistance agencies.Fmd out more
The Summer Nutrition Programs play a critical role in closing the summer nutrition gap that exists for low-income families when the school year — and access to school breakfast and lunch — ends.
To make sure you have everything you need to show policymakers that there are too many children in your state missing out on free summer meals, FRAC has developed a communications toolkit for states.Find out more
This report measures the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2018, nationally and in each state. A companion piece, FRAC’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Breakfast Status Report, focuses on summer breakfast participation.Read the report