The Number of People Who Received Assistance, Estimated at 49 Million, Remains Higher Than Prior to the Pandemic
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief and food rescue organization, published a new report today highlighting the latest Charitable Food Assistance Participation Estimate, which estimates the number of people who received assistance one or more times from the charitable food sector. The report finds that in 2022, approximately 49 million people – one out of every six people in the U.S. – turned to hunger relief programs for support, which includes the Feeding America nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs. Last year, the Feeding America network provided 4.9 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need.
Across the country, families and individuals are doing everything they can to put food on the table. Mary Wheat is the director of the South Community Food Pantry in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and said distributions continue to be a community effort, with everybody working together to provide food to people in need and year-round delivery to individuals without reliable access to transportation. She shared that demand has also intensified due to elevated food prices. “There’s a lot of need,” said Wheat. “But there’s a lot of people willing to help. It’s a good community…because people care.” Though food insecurity exists in every community in the Unites States, certain communities experience food insecurity differently. This is why Feeding America is accelerating efforts to address disparities and advance solutions for an America where no one is hungry.
“Every person needs nutritious food to thrive. The collective efforts of the public and private sectors have helped to mitigate a national hunger crisis brought on by the pandemic in 2020, but the reality remains that 1 in every 6 people look to food banks and pantries for support as they work hard to provide for themselves and their families,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “Local food banks, pantries, and community meal programs have become an essential component of many households’ food budgets, especially as we continue to face increased food prices and the end of pandemic-era benefits.”
Since the start of 2022, many COVID-era government assistance programs have ended, including increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, known as emergency allotments; waivers and expanded eligibility for some nutrition programs; and the expanded Child Tax Credit. The charitable food sector remains a critical support for families who are working to overcome challenges with accessing food, despite budgeting and saving. Additionally, food prices, continuing supply chain disruptions and waning food donations are putting strains on food banks’ ability to meet the sustained need. A recent Feeding America food bank survey showed that 80% of responding food banks were reporting either an increase or steady demand for emergency food services.
“As a nation, we must revitalize our commitment to end hunger and work together, including the public and private sectors, to continue to make substantial progress,” continued Babineaux-Fontenot. “That’s why we are advocating for the passage of a strong, bipartisan 2023 Farm Bill. The nutrition programs within the farm bill work in tandem with food banks across the country to assist families and individuals facing food insecurity. By engaging in a joint effort, we can continue to co-create solutions to increase access to nutritious food for everyone.”
To learn more about the movement to end hunger and advocate for a strong farm bill that helps everyone keep food on the table visit FeedingAmerica.org/FarmBill.
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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 5.2 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.