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
- Fact Sheet
This paper provides a brief overview of the importance of early nutrition; briefly summarizes the harmful impacts of food insecurity on infants and young children; and highlights research demonstrating the effective role of the federal nutrition programs during early childhood in improving food and economic security, dietary intake, health, and development.Read more
FRAC’s report on participation data in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs measures how many children had access to afterschool suppers and snacks in October 2017, nationally and in each state. 1.2 million low-income children benefited from afterschool suppers in October 2017, an 11.3 percent increase from the previous year.Read the report
- Interactive Data Tool
This interactive map highlights participation in the Afterschool Supper Program and Afterschool Snack Program for each state.Find out more
- Fact Sheet
Since the nationwide expansion of the Afterschool Meal Program was authorized in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sponsors, state agencies, and anti-hunger, afterschool, and child advocates have been working to increase the number of programs and children participating. This fact sheet details promising practices that can help increase the reach of afterschool suppers.Read more