WASHINGTON, October 25, 2023 — FRAC is deeply troubled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) report released today reveals hunger in America soared in 2022 after falling the previous year due to COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. The data underscore how the unwinding of critical pandemic interventions and rising costs have taken a toll on families, particularly households with children and households of color, and also mirror the significant rise in poverty in 2022, the root cause of hunger.
The report found that 44.2 million people lived in households that struggled with hunger in 2022, an increase of 10.3 million compared to last year’s report on food insecurity rates.
Key findings from the ERS report:
- 1 in 8 households in America struggled with hunger in 2022.
- 13.4 million children lived in households that experienced food insecurity, up 44.6 percent from 2021.
- 33.1 percent of single-parent households headed by women experienced food insecurity.
- Rates of food insecurity were higher for Black (22.4 percent) and Latinx (20.8 percent) households, both double the rate of White non-Latinx households.
- Households in the Southern region continued to experience higher rates of food insecurity than any other U.S. region, with 14.5 percent of households experiencing food insecurity in 2022.
- A higher number of households in rural areas (14.7 percent) experienced food insecurity compared to urban areas (12.5 percent).
- 32 percent of households with reported incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold experienced food insecurity in 2022.
There is no excuse for anyone in this country to go hungry when solutions exist.
More than 6.7 million women, young children, and infants rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to access healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding counseling and support, and health care and social service referrals. Yet, without congressional action, this proven program hangs in the balance. FRAC urges Congress to include additional funding in any short- and long-term fiscal year 2024 spending bills so that eligible families have uninterrupted access to WIC’s significant nutrition and health benefits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps tens of millions of families afford to put food on the table, while also stimulating our economy. Despite its many strengths, SNAP benefits are far from adequate, with the average benefit being just $6 per person per day. Congress must do everything in its power to protect and strengthen SNAP benefits and equitable access.
The Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) expired at the start of 2022 after lifting nearly 3 million children out of poverty in 2021. Reinstating the expanded CTC would not only improve families’ ability to put food on the table, but it also would benefit the economy and spur job growth.
From the start of the pandemic until June 2022, all children, no matter their household income, received school meals at no charge. Congress must make permanent free healthy school meals available to all children nationwide to rid our classrooms of hunger and the stigma associated with school meal participation and fuel health and learning.
If we want to reverse the uptick in hunger rates, Congress must act now to make substantial investments in anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. Hungry people can’t wait.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.