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Current News & Analyses

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jennifer Adach, 202-986-2200 x3018

Hunger a Rising Concern Among Americans As Economy Falters
Public Wants Issue Discussed in Campaign; Recent Polling Shows Need for Political Leadership on Hunger and Poverty


Washington, D.C. – October 8, 2008 – American families are increasingly worried about being able to afford enough food for their families and a substantial majority believes eliminating hunger should be a priority of the federal government and the next administration, according to a new review of recent public opinion research.

The review, commissioned by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and conducted by Peter D. Hart Associates and McLaughlin & Associates, also concluded that Americans believe that the nation is not doing enough to combat hunger-related problems and that candidates for public office need to speak about solutions to hunger.

“As the economy continues its downward trend, concerns about hunger will only intensify,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center. “This is an issue that candidates have not focused on, but one that needs to be part of the political debate for President, for Congress, for Governorships and for state legislatures. Voters deserve to hear exactly where candidates stand and their plans to address the problem.”

A summary of the findings and the full report are available on FRAC’s Web site at www.frac.org/Press_Release/hungerpoll08.htm.

Findings include:

  • A 2007 Alliance to End Hunger poll found that three-quarters of voters believe we could “dramatically reduce the hunger problem if we really made it a national priority.” The Alliance’s 2008 poll found that more than three in five voters said they are more likely to support a presidential candidate who makes fighting hunger a top priority and nearly nine out of 10 voters said that support for hunger issues is important when voting for a member of Congress.
  • There is overwhelming support for federal nutrition assistance programs. Ninety-four percent of people believe that it’s important for government to fund anti-hunger programs including school lunches and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
  • When recently asked about temporarily increasing monthly food stamp benefits as part of an economic stimulus package, 64 percent of Americans were in support, according to a poll by FRAC and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • A recent study for the Rockefeller Foundation found that the percentage of adults who are at least slightly worried about being able to put food on the table increased from 27 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in 2008. Those who are very worried increased from 7 percent to 20 percent during the same time period.
  • Hunger and poverty were identified as the top moral issue facing our country by both Democratic and Republican voters, according to a 2008 poll by the Alliance to End Hunger.
  • Overall, Americans don’t think the nation is doing enough to solve hunger-related issues. Two-thirds said they thought the problem is getting worse and more than half said we are failing as a country to ensure that people don’t go hungry, according to a 2007 survey commissioned by Hormel Foods.
  • In order to deal with the costs of food, more people are turning to public assistance. In the 2007 Hormel survey, approximately three out of every 10 adults who had not received food donations in the previous year stated that it is very likely or somewhat likely that they will be forced to ask for help due to rising food prices.

The review looked at the past eight years of public opinion research on nutrition, food insecurity, hunger and federal spending on domestic programs to combat these problems.

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FRAC (www.frac.org) is the leading national organization working for more effective public and private policies to eradicate domestic hunger and undernutrition.


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