What Hunger Looks Like Right Now in the U.S.

Matthew Lester/MCC

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released data on food security in the United States during 2009.   The results tell us that hunger trends from 2008 have mostly stayed the same, with just a slight increase from 14.6% of households to 14.7% (17.4 million households) experiencing some food insecurity.  For households with children, 10.6% (4.2 million households) were food insecure; “they were, at times, uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food for all household members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”

As need stayed the same, enrollment in some of the country’s largest nutrition assistance program increased, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), national school lunches and WIC (supplemental assistance for women, infants and children).

Click here for links to the report.

Although the report is clear in that things have stayed mostly the same between 2009 and 2008, these numbers still reflect more families lacking enough resources for balanced meals since 2007.  The sharp increase of hunger because of the economic recession is still present.

Recently, reauthorization for child nutrition programs like school lunches and summer food programs has been stalled in the House of Representatives.  This is because the bill is much smaller than what was hoped for, with about half of the improvements to current programs that were wanted.  It is also because of controversial funding, the bill uses funds from SNAP which will decrease monthly benefits in 2013.

While hunger remains such a vast issue as a result of the recession, Congress should support both Child Nutrition and SNAP.  Both have proven to provide necessary assistance to families and children who need it, and one should not be funded at the expense of the other.

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