More than 53 Million People Received Help from Food Banks and Food Pantries in 2021

New Report from Feeding America Highlights Need in Communities Across the Country, Still One-Third More than Before the Pandemic

June 15, 2022

Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks, 21 statewide associations and 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs, today published a new report highlighting its latest Charitable Food Participation Estimate measuring the number of people who received help from the charitable food sector, of which the Feeding America network comprises a large portion. The report finds that more than 53 million people turned to food banks, food pantries and meal programs for help in 2021, one-third more than prior to the pandemic. 

“While we, as a country, are in a better position today than two years ago, with the availability of vaccines and with unemployment rates rebounding, the pandemic showed us that too many people live on the brink of food and financial insecurity. In addition, we know that some communities experience food insecurity more deeply than others and that it exists in every county, parish and borough in the U.S.,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “Local food banks, food pantries, food shelves and other community food programs have become an essential piece of a household’s food budget, especially now when we face new challenges with rising food and gas prices and other supply chain issues. As we set out to identify and co-create solutions to end hunger by 2030, we need to make sure that the people using our services have a seat at the table and their voices are heard.”

To that end, as part of a strategy to inform the White House and elected officials for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to be held this September, Feeding America launched the Elevating Voices to End Hunger Together initiative in late May. This new initiative, currently underway, will connect directly with individuals and families with living or lived experience of food insecurity across the country through 100 listening sessions, 10,000 questionnaires and 100,000 text message conversations throughout the summer. The data and insights collected from these various activities will be published in a report later this summer.

“We have a bold aspiration that every community and each person within it has access to the food and resources that they say they desire and need to thrive,” continued Babineaux-Fontenot. “Though food insecurity exists in every community in the Unites States, certain communities experience food insecurity differently. As the Feeding America network connects with tens of millions of people each year in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, we have seen how vital the voices and experiences of people facing hunger are to devising better solutions to create a more equitable food system for all.”

In the short term, while the country faces inflation rates not seen for more than 40 years, and food prices having risen over 10% in the last twelve months, Feeding America food banks need support. A recent Feeding America food bank survey showed that 80% of food banks were reporting either an increase or steady demand for emergency food services. Feeding America urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify immediate opportunities to connect more food with the food bank network and asks for continued support from the private sector, including food industry partners, to continue to provide food and other services to the tens of millions of people turning to food banks and food pantries for help.

“While we work toward reducing food insecurity for all in the long-term, we cannot forget that one out of every six of our neighbors needs help right now,” said Babineaux-Fontenot. “This is an all-in fight, but I know that with USDA and Congress along with our partners and supporters, we can and will achieve our vision of an America where no one is hungry.”

To learn more about Feeding America’s Elevating Voices to End Hunger Together initiative, visit FeedingAmerica.org/whitehouse.


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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