Progress May Plummet Amid COVID-19 Crisis
A new report released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found food insecurity rates dropped in the United States in 2019, pre-COVID-19. One in 10 households (10.5 percent) were unable at times to provide adequate, nutritious food for their family in 2019 – a decline of 0.6 percentage points from 2018. This is the lowest rate of food insecurity since prior to the 2008 recession.
While the decline is encouraging, 35.2 million people, including 10.7 million children, faced hunger in America last year. That comes out to 1 in 9 individuals and 1 in 7 children who may have lived in food-insecure households, though child food insecurity rates did not decline significantly year-over-year. Some of the groups who experienced above-average rates of food insecurity include households with children headed by a single woman or man, households with children under age 6, households led by Black, non-Hispanic and Hispanic family members, and households with low incomes.
Additionally, the USDA’s report does not include the potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on millions of our neighbors nationwide. Feeding America earlier this year estimated up to 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020, including 18 million children, as a result of the pandemic – a glaring increase from the USDA’s 2019 findings.
“The USDA’s report showed promise that hunger was dwindling in America, but we know progress has been dismantled by COVID-19,” said Katie Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Feeding America. “With more of our neighbors facing mounting hardships, the Feeding America network of 200 food banks and 60,000 partner agencies is doing its best to meet sustained, increased demand. But we can’t keep food insecurity rates down alone.”
Feeding America urges the public to continue supporting charitable food assistance through volunteering, donations and pledging to vote to feed America this November. Feeding America is also actively engaging with Congress and the Administration to increase the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit – the nation’s first line of defense against hunger – by 15 percent.
“A combination of these efforts may help our neighbors get out of food insecurity, because no one in America should ever go hungry,” said Fitzgerald.
The USDA’s report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2019, is published by USDA’s Economic Research Service and reports on data collected in December 2019. To see the full report, visit https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/99282/err-275.pdf?v=9263.7
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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 5.3 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.