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Number of U.S. Households Facing Hunger Remains High

Child_eating_sandwichOne in six Americans was unsure, at some point last year, about how to provide for his or her next meal, according to figures released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The agency’s annual report on food insecurity showed that 14.9 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2011, meaning one or more members was at risk of hunger, a very slight increase from 14.5 percent in 2010.

Other key findings:

  • 16.7 million children lived in food insecure families in 2011, up from 16.2 percent in 2010
  • 25.1 percent of African-American and 26.2 percent of Hispanic households were food insecure during 2011. Among African-American and Hispanic households with children, food insecurity rates were higher than average.
  • 41.1 percent of households with incomes below the official poverty line were food insecure in 2011.

Federal nutrition programs, including SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), have kept stable the number of Americans at risk of hunger, even at a time when the economy has led to an increase in participation.

These statistics highlight the importance of creating a circle of protection around federal safety net programs, especially as Congress examines funding for SNAP and other similar programs as part of the 2012 farm bill reauthorization.  

Resource:

Photo: A child eats a sandwich. (Photo by Margaret W. Nea)

 

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