As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver his annual State of the Union address, Feeding America has issued its annual "State of Hunger in America," assessing the prevalence of food insecurity and the availability of public and private food assistance.
Here are some facts about the State of Hunger in America in 2014:
Prevalence of Hunger
Currently 49 million people in our nation live in homes that are identified as food insecure — meaning that they do not always have access to adequate amounts of food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, according to data released by the USDA in September 2013.
The USDA found that 20 percent of households with children and nine percent of elderly people living alone are food insecure.�
This high prevalence of food insecurity is driven by current economic conditions. The number of individuals living in food insecurity increased by 35 percent in the first year of the recession (from 2007 to 2008) and has not abated.
While the nationwide unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7 percent, the topline number belies the deeper story of limited economic opportunity.
Federal nutrition programs are working exactly as they were designed, growing in response to increased need to provide food to people who might otherwise go hungry. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) is the first line of defense for low-income Americans facing hunger.
Unfortunately, Congress is considering additional cuts to SNAP in the farm bill, exposing vulnerable families to a further loss of food assistance.
Private Food Assistance
In addition to the federal nutrition programs, 1 in 8 Americans annually rely on assistance from Feeding America food banks.
The number of people served each year by our network of food banks increased nearly 46 percent from 2006 to 2010, largely due to the recession, and has not abated since.
Food banks have been working to meet sustained high need for several years and are strained under increased need and escalating food and fuel costs.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a means-tested federal program that provides food commodities at no cost to Americans in need of short-term hunger relief through emergency food providers like food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.�TEFAP commodity support declined nearly 30 percent in FY2012, leading to 40 percent decline in TEFAP deliveries for food banks in 2013.