Hunger and Poverty
Get state data:
Food insecurity for 2009-2011 (pdf)
Poverty rates for all state residents and for children (pdf)
The federal nutrition programs can lift households out of poverty. Nationally, SNAP lifted 3.9 million people (1.7 million children) out of poverty in 2011. Learn more about the SNAP effect.
Hunger and poverty affect far too many Americans. Five things you should know about hunger and poverty are:
- One in six Americans struggled with hunger in 2011. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (pdf), 50.1 million people lived in food insecure households in 2011 (up from 48.8 million in 2010). Of that 33.5 million are adults (14.5 percent of all adults) and 16.6 million are children (22.4 percent of all children).
- Very low food security had been getting worse even before the recession. The USDA report also found that 16.8 million people lived in households that were considered to have “very low food security” – households with the deepest struggles, regularly skipping meals, or cutting the amounts eaten below what is needed –. The number of people in this category in 2011 is nearly double the number in 2000.
- More than one in seven people lived in poverty in 2011. The Census Bureau reported that in 2011, 46.2 million people (15 percent) lived in poverty in 2011, a rate unchanged from the 2010 poverty rate.
- 60.9 million people, or 19.8 percent of all Americans, lived on less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level in 2011. This means they are income-eligible for most federal nutrition programs, like food stamps and child nutrition programs – assistance which can help them stretch their food dollars and get access to healthy foods.
- Children continue to have high poverty rates, with 21.9 percent of children under 18 (16.1 million) living in poverty in 2011. 7.3 million (9.8 percent) of all children under 18 lived in families with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty level.