Public Attitudes Toward Hunger

Poll results (pdf)
Press release

Over the years, FRAC has conducted a series of polls and analyses to explore voters’ feelings on hunger, nutrition, and other issues. The findings from our 2014 poll reflect an ongoing trend: Americans believe that hunger is an extremely serious issue and look to the government for leadership in this fight.

Americans believe hunger is a serious issue, and many have personal experience of it.

  • 45 percent of Americans say that hunger in the U.S. is a “serious problem.”  Just 15 percent do not believe hunger is a problem at all in the United States today.
  • More than two-thirds believe that children often  eat less nutritious and cheap food so their parents can scrape together money to pay the rent, that seniors often choose whether to pay for prescriptions or food, that families could go a week without fresh produce, and that many children are going hungry in the summer when school is out.
  • Many believe that hunger is more of an issue today than it was before the recession. This cuts across party lines with 56 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents echoing this statement.
  • Two out of five Americans have either experienced hunger in the past year or personally know someone who has – that includes nearly half of people aged 18 to 34.
  • Nearly three in 10 Americans (and half of millennials) say that either they or a member of their immediate family have used government food assistance programs in the past couple of years. That includes at least 25 percent of nearly every major demographic subgroup.

Women are more likely to recognize hunger as an issue, but both women and men agree that government needs to do more to address this nationwide crisis.

  • Fifty-two percent of women say hunger in the U.S. is a serious problem while 36 percent of men say the same. Sixty-three percent of women, compared to 49 percent of men, believe that hunger has worsened since the recession.
  • Fifty-one percent of women and 45 percent of men say that Congress needs to do more to address the problem. Only 18 percent overall think that fewer resources should be allocated on hunger relief programs.

A majority look to the government for leadership, and recognize the strengths of the federal nutrition programs.

  • The belief that the government needs to display leadership in the fight against hunger is very strong. More than 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents look to the federal and local government to lead, and 50 percent of Republicans believe that the federal government has responsibility.
  • 61 percent agree that “we should support and improve government-sponsored food assistance programs so that more people who are struggling can get the help they need.” Eighty-one percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 39 percent of Republicans agree with this statement.
  • People believe that the child nutrition programs – especially school meals and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program – are leading to better outcomes for children by helping them learn and improving their overall health and well-being. By more than three to one, Americans believe that spending on such programs should increase (50 percent) rather than decrease (15 percent).

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.

Previous polls conducted by FRAC:

  • FRAC Poll: Americans Continue to to Show High Support for SNAP (August 2013 – Poll Results)
  • FRAC Poll: Americans Continue to Voice Strong Support for SNAP and Strong Opposition to Cuts (May 2013 – Poll Results)
  • FRAC Poll: Overwhelming Support for Food Stamps, Opposition to Cutting the Program (September 2012 – Poll Results)
  • FRAC Poll: Opposition to Cutting Food Stamp Assistance  (January 2012 – Poll Results)
  • FRAC and Tyson Foods National Hunger Survey (March 2011 –Executive Summary and Findings)
  • FRAC Poll: Overwhelming Support for Federal Efforts to End Hunger  (December 2010 – Poll Results)
  • Summary of Public Opinion Research on Nutrition, Hunger, and Issues that Voters Want Candidates to Address (2010 Update | 2008 Full Report and Summary )