RESEARCH

Elevating Voices to End Hunger Together: Community-Driven Solutions to Address America's Hunger Crisis

The scale of the hunger crisis in America is immense. Last year, 53 million people sought help from food charities. To end hunger, we must listen to the people experiencing it.

Published September 21, 2022

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Overview

To end hunger, we need to listen to the people experiencing it. Elevating Voices to End Hunger Together is Feeding America’s initiative to gather input from people with lived experience through listening sessions, a survey, questionnaires and texts. In all, the Feeding America network gathered insights from nearly 36,000 people across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico who self-identified as facing challenges getting the food they need. However, they are not representative of all people facing hunger

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Key Takeaways

Our neighbors shared their aspirations for the future. Feeding America and the people we spoke with envision strong communities where everyone can access the food and resources they need to thrive. The anti-hunger policy recommendations—informed by people facing hunger—contained in the Elevating Voices report are grounded in prioritizing dignity, increasing access, expanding opportunity and improving health.

Prioritizing Dignity

  • Anti-hunger policies must prioritize the dignity and agency of people facing hunger.
  • Congress should ensure Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit amounts are sufficient to allow our neighbors in need to keep adequate amounts of nutritious food on the table.
  • Individuals and families should choose which foods will help them thrive – not lawmakers.

Increasing Access

  • Everyone in the United States should have access to the food and resources they need to thrive, regardless of race, background or ZIP code.
  • Policymakers must eliminate barriers that prevent people from accessing grocery stores and food assistance.
  • Many of our neighbors facing hunger have limited transportation options and cannot afford a vehicle, gas and maintenance costs.

Expanding Opportunity

  • Policymakers must understand that food insecurity is a symptom of many intersecting root causes, such as economic and social conditions, race and geography.
  • A thriving economy with well-paying jobs is the most effective long-term solution to fight hunger.
  • People facing hunger are calling for broader policy solutions focused on addressing high housing costs, supporting immigrant communities, creating well-paying jobs and more.

Improving Health

  • Food insecurity may be long-term or temporary, but the resulting health impacts can endure.
  • People facing hunger often lack access to nutritious foods and health care services, especially if they are older adults or live in rural areas.
  • People facing hunger often choose between purchasing nutritious foods and paying for health care.

What People are Saying

There is not one-size-fits-all and I literally have fallen through nearly every crack. Create flexibility in programs so that people can qualify.

- Cass County, North Dakota

Getting qualified means jumping through sometimes impossible hoops; it needs to be fairer, easier, faster."

- Vigo County, Indiana

We need more resources for the people who don't have transportation. Our community is a long way from a grocery store.

- Tunica County, Mississippi

I would love to have enough money and assistance that I won't have to worry that I won't be able to pay my bills, that my heat and electric would never be turned off. That I always have access to food and milk for my daughter and granddaughter.

- Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Espero tener salud y potencial para sobrellevar y mejorar todo esto nada es fácil pero imposible tampoco.

- Chester County, Pennsylvania
Translation: (“I hope to have health and potential to prosper and better my surroundings; nothing is easy, but nothing is impossible either.”)

How our respondents answered:

75%

of survey respondents report making big trade-offs—impossible choices—to afford food.

78%

of survey respondents want SNAP to make it easier to access healthy foods, not restrict food choices.

49%

of English questionnaire respondents said their communities need more food pantries, grocery stores, and fresh food to thrive.

92%

of survey respondents agree “food is medicine – if you have regular access to healthy foods, you feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

Join us in the fight against hunger

Now that we listened to our neighbors facing hunger, let's get to work.

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