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.
- 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.
Who is impacted by hunger?
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 povertyRead FRAC’s Plan of Action to End Hunger in America.
- Public attitudes toward hungerThe 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.
EducationChildren 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 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 & DataSee More Resources
- Fact Sheet
The School Breakfast Program plays a vital role in supporting children’s health and academic achievement. Still, too many students miss out on school breakfast and the positive outcomes that stem from participation. Just over half of low-income children who participate in school lunch also participate in school breakfast. School nurses can help increase student nutritional intake through school breakfast participation by encouraging their school(s) to implement a breakfast after the bell program and to offer nutritious breakfasts at no cost to all students, particularly in schools or school districts with high concentrations of students certified for free and reduced-price school meals.Read the report
FRAC’s first-ever report on the Afterschool Nutrition Programs measures how many children had access to afterschool suppers and snacks in October 2016, nationally and in each state.
The report found that nearly 1.1 million low-income children benefited from afterschool suppers in October 2016, up from just 200,000 in October 2011.Read the report
- Interactive Data Tool
State of the States: Profiles of Hunger, Poverty, and Federal Nutrition ProgramsFind out more.
- Interactive Data Tool
Data profiles are available for every state and for the nation as a whole, and are designed to help states measure how they are faring in using key public nutrition programs to reduce hunger and improve the health and economic security of low-income families.Read the report