Heat or Eat, Heal or Eat
Millions of Americans who live on the brink of hunger are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet this winter as record snowfalls hit the many parts of the country and 44 states1 report widespread flu activity, Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization said today. 1
“We are always concerned about the people we serve when winter comes. The vast majority of people who turn to us for help often have to make very tough choices between paying for food and paying for most other basic necessities. Large heating bills can be a real problem for families struggling with limited dollars,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America.
Nearly 70 percent of the households served by Feeding America report that their most common spending tradeoff was between paying for utilities or food, according to the organization’s recent report, Hunger in America 2014. One-third of households surveyed reported making this choice every month.
Bad colds, sore throats and influenza, which are so common during the winter months, can also cause a myriad of problems for low-income wage earners, and put their households at even greater risk of hunger.
Illness often means lost wages. Two-thirds of workers at the bottom 25 percent of the pay scale—the country's lowest earners—do not receive paid time off for illness, according to a Labor Department report released this year. Three-quarters of part-time employees are not paid when they miss work due to illness.
“Our Hunger in America 2014 study reported that one in five households with children lacks any type of health insurance, more than half of households (55 percent) report having unpaid medical bills and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of households reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care in the past 12 months,” Aiken said. “Doctors’ appointments and medicine can be prohibitively expensive for someone with a meager income who is without health insurance.
“All of these fact and figures make one thing abundantly clear: We must continue to have a strong and well-funded federal nutrition safety net, and we need to ensure that our food banks are able to continue to meet the needs of the communities they serve,” Aiken concluded.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.