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Empty Stomachs to Hopeful Hearts: 10 Facts About Hunger in the US

Hunger in America
The United States (U.S.) is home to millions of people and considered one of the most developed countries in the world. However, hunger in the U.S. still remains a significant problem.

The National Commission on Hunger officially defines hunger as “a situation in which a member of a household does not have enough money to provide for all the needs of the family.” Families that suffer from hunger in the U.S. are struggling through many other disadvantages that come from food insecurity.

10 Facts About Hunger in America

  1. Statistically, about one in six people in the U.S.A. face hunger as one of the biggest concerns in life. For children, more than 20 percent are at risk of hunger and malnutrition. This means that about 40 million people struggle with hunger in the U.S. and 12 million children are unable to get one decent meal a day.
  2. The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of access to enough food to feed the immediate family at all times. In 2013, it was found that 17.5 million households in the U.S. were food insecure. This means that these people go day-to-day without an actual meal throughout the day.
  3. The dilemma of those with food insecurity does not stop with just choosing how to supply food. A 2014 study by Feeding America found that its members are always conflicted about what to spend their money on. This was because people have a limited amount of resources yet have other priorities in life. The study found that 69 percent of the members had to choose between food and utilities, 67 percent had to choose between food and transportation costs and 66 percent had to choose between food and medical care.
  4. Lack of nutritional food increases the number of health problems because the body is unable to protect and nurture the person. Food insecurity can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity because people with food insecurity are usually without a lot of savings, and so if they had the chance to purchase and consume unhealthy food such as fast food, they would take it.
  5. Children who are unable to acquire the necessary nutrition to develop and grow properly are prone to more problems. For example, children who are deprived of food experience developmental impairments such as language and motor skills. Such impairments can also lead to children struggling in school because they are more likely to repeat a grade and display behavioral problems.
  6. Children who come from households with food insecurity can participate in school lunch programs. In a typical school day, it was found that around 70.5 percent of enrolled students receive free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  7. With 42.3 million people from the U.S. currently partaking in the program, it is evident that the people who use this program the most are those who are below the poverty line. With about 59 percent of households with food insecurity participating in federal nutrition assistance programs, these programs serve as one of the best available for those with hunger in the United States of America.
  8. One of the United States’ nutritional programs is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps its participants with the cost of buying food. This aid can be done through food stamps or funds sent to those in need. In the fiscal year of 2015, an average SNAP recipient received about $4.23 a day to use for food. While this may not seem much, it is still more than what these individuals have on a daily basis, which makes a difference. Eighty-three percent of SNAP households have incomes below the poverty line — every cent counts in trying to alleviate their food insecurity.
  9. Another federal program is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). As of 2014, WIC serves about 6.4 million infants and children under five, and 2 million women.
  10. Hunger in the U.S. prevails not because of the lack of food, but rather because some people are unable to lift themselves out of poverty and food insecurity due to the unequal income distribution. It is a true struggle to provide anything for a family without funds, so the root of the problem comes from the lack of livable income and employment opportunities.

Hunger in the U.S.

For those with the resources and means, hunger can be eliminated with a quick trip to the grocery store; however, it must be understood that is not the way of life for many citizens living among us. These facts about hunger in the U.S. show that even in developed countries, there is still a long way to go until no one suffers the pain of poverty and food insecurity.

-Jenny S Park
Photo: Flickr