As you sit down to dinner tonight, consider this disturbing statistic: 1 in 6 Americans is struggling to purchase food. In other words, approximately 50 million Americans are living in food insecure households—including over 16 million children.
This represents a considerable increase since 2007, when 36.2 million Americans faced food insecurity. Many experts blame the so-called “Great Recession”. According to one report, “The deteriorating economic climate was accompanied by… evidence of a dramatic increase in the number of individuals struggling with food insecurity”. The number has remained high as the economy has yet to fully recover: the unemployment rate (7.3%) is 2.7 percentage points higher and the median household income ($52,100) is 6% lower than in 2007.
Other possible factors include an increase in food prices. Despite the recession, the Consumer Price Index for food items rose by approximately 21% (or an average of 2.8% annually) from 2007 to 2013. Furthermore, shifting demographics in the US have increased the size of vulnerable populations, including senior citizens and single-mother households.
Fortunately, there are over 250 food banks in the US working to alleviate hunger. Of these, approximately 200 belong to the Feeding America network. Feeding America supplies more than 3 billion pounds of food annually to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. Thus, 1 in 8 Americans relies on Feeding America for their grocery needs.
And soon, Feeding America may be needed more than ever. Recently, the House of Representatives passed the latest version of the Farm Bill (H.R. 3102). While the bill boosts funding to agribusiness, it cuts $39 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. According to Feeding America, this would result in more than 1.5 billion meals lost in the 2014 fiscal year. The Senate version of the bill also reduces funding to SNAP, albeit by a considerably lower amount.
Please consider supporting one of Op4G’s partner food banks: the Oregon Food Bank, the Vermont Food Bank, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Operation Sack Lunch, or the Friends of Saint Joseph Food Pantry. Please donate funds and non-perishable foods, or complete Op4G surveys on their behalf.
Flickr Photo Credit: jeffreyw