From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger in Working America

From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger and the Working Poor

The research report, From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger in Working America, documents the challenges facing many working families that receive charitable food assistance through the Feeding America network. While more than half (54%) of all client households have a member that has worked for pay in the past 12 months, these households still experience difficulties in meeting their basic needs. Limited hours, changes in employment status, low incomes, and competing household expenses are some of the common challenges.

  • Nearly nine out of ten (89%) client households with employment report an annual household income of $30,000 or less.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of working client households live at or below the federal poverty line, which was $23,550 for a family of four in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Many client households face challenges in securing full-time positions, with more than half (57%) of working client households reporting part-time employment (30 hours or less per week).

In addition, the report identifies the variety of ways in which client households with employment struggle to make ends meet, such as making tough decisions between paying for food and other living expenses, as well as utilizing a variety of other coping mechanisms to access enough food. They report high rates of participation in federal and charitable programs. In addition, one in four (24%) working client households has an adult member currently enrolled in school, whose increased educational attainment may allow for more employment prospects and/or higher paying positions in the future, but may contribute to the present strain on household resources.

The report findings are based on additional analyses of data collected from Hunger in America 2014 about client households with employment in the past year. The report was released jointly by Feeding America and Oxfam America in November 2014.

Download the Executive Summary [PDF]


Stay Informed

Get email updates about what we're doing to help solve hunger and how you can help.