Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Thursday Thirteen 257: Hunger Awareness

September is Hunger Action Month (HAM) here in the United States. On September 6th, one of our local TV stations is partnering with the Second Harvest Foodbank for the "Go Orange for Hunger" campaign. People are encouraged to wear orange today (the color for hunger awareness) and help get the word out about a serious problme in our country. Here are a few statistics about hunger in America.

1. Hunger and poverty, though linked, are not synonymous. Unemployment is a better indicator of food insecurity (not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or if there will be enough) than poverty. In 2010, 46.2 million people (15.1 percent) were in poverty, while 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households -- 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children.

2. In 2010, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.2 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35.1 percent) or single men (25.4 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).

3. In 2009, 8.0 percent of seniors living alone (925,000 households) were food insecure.

4. Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5 percent in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL.

5. Nine states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2008-2010:

United States: 14.6%
Mississippi: 19.4%
Texas: 18.8%
Arkansas: 18.6%
Alabama: 17.3%
Georgia: 16.9%
Ohio: 16.4%
Florida: 16.1%
California: 15.9%
North Carolina: 15.7%

6. In 2010, 4.8 percent of all U.S. households (5.6 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times.

7. In 2010, 59.2 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

8. Feeding America provides emergency food assistance to an estimated 37 million low-income people annually, a 46 percent increase from 25 million since Hunger in America 2010.

9. Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites.

10. According to the USDA, over 16 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2010.

11. In 2010, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are the District of Columbia, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida. The top five states with the lowest rate of food insecure children under 18 are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.

12. Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children. During the 2010 federal fiscal year, 20.6 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, just 2.3 million of these same income-eligible children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that same year.

13. Research indicates that hungry children have do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate.

What can you do to help?

Contribute to your local food pantry or make an online donation to a hunger-relief program such as
Second Harvest or Feeding America. Many supermarkets, schools, polls and community centers have food donation barrels to collect non-perishable food items--pick up an extra can of vegetables or package of pasta next time you go grocery shopping and drop it in the barrel on your way out. Some stores also have donation gift cards or bags valued at $5 already done up for people to purchase and donate.

If you have a garden, many pantries and food kitchens accept surplus vegetables to donate to program participants. Plant an extra acre next spring specifically for a local food pantry, or help plant a community garden in your area. If you are a hunter, check with local pantries and kitchens to see if they will accept donations of venison (many do!).

More Thursday Thirteen posts


Shelley Munro said...

Those statistics are scary in this age.

Mia Celeste said...

Thanks for sharing. Hunger is a problem we should all do something about.

Adelle Laudan said...

Those statistics are so sad. Luckily our community is very active in keeping the food bank shelves stocked. One food bank even has a community garden for those who don't have the means to plant fresh veggies.
Great post! Happy T13!

colleen said...

It's sad and hard to believe. We have a really good food bank here and activists on this.

Heather said...

Shelley: Very scary that we should have this problem, especially in a "land of plenty."

Mia: Yes, it is definitely a problem that needs addressing, especially where children adn seniors are concerned.

Heather said...

Adelle: My community is pretty good about getting the word out about the problem and in letting people know when there are food drives.

There are also several community gardens, including some at schools. I feel it is especially important for schools to be involved as many children do not know where food comes from, and studies have shown that if they plant it, they will be more willing to eat it.

Heather said...

Hi Colleen! We have a good system here, too, though it has been overtaxed during the past decade, as demand increases. Our local food pantries were very proactive this past spring in the "grow an extra acre" campaign to encourage local farmers/gardeners to plant something extra for foodbanks.

Alice Audrey said...

I find "food insecurity" an interesting concept. Do they check to make sure the people in their statistics have no savings?

Paige Tyler said...

Great TT!


My TT is at

I am Harriet said...

And I was concerned about having to go on a diet....

Have a great Thursday!

CountryDew said...

I find this a poor commentary on US society, which should do much better than this. I look for it to only get worse, too, regardless of political party. As a nation, we really have our priorities backwards.

Jennifer Leeland said...

I totally didn't realize it was this prevalent. Thanks for this post, Heather.

Heather said...

Alice: I believe when applying for any sort of aid, you are to list all sources of income, including child support, alimony and savings accounts. Heck, I've heard stories of people who have had to sell house and cars before qualifying for assistance. It's sad, really.

Paige: Thank you!

Harriet: It does tend to make you feel bad about dieting or wasting any amount of food, doesn't it?

Heather said...

Anita: It is indeed a sad commentary, and sadly I also think it will get worse before it gets better. It brings to mind the bread lines of the 1920s and 30s.

Jennifer: I think many are unaware of how prevalent hunger in America is because of the "stigma" attached to asking for assistance, even if all you need is a little help each month to put food on the table after all the bills are paid. The past six to eight years have been especially hard on families.

Alice Audrey said...

I could see it if someone started really well off then lost a high paying job and ended up on public assistance. You don't want to be handing out money to someone who still looks rich, even when they no longer are.