Growing Hunger in America - by Stephen Lendman
In January 2010, Feeding America (FA, formerly America's Second Harvest) released its disturbing new report on growing hunger titled, "Hunger in America 2010." The Chicago-based organization is the nation's "leading domestic hunger-relief charity," serving the needy "through a nationwide network of member food banks, over 200 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico."
Its study is based on interviews with over 62,000 clients served by the FA network, as well as information provided by 37,000 FA agencies - emergency food providers, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters for short-term residents.
FA's system serves an estimated 37 million people annually, up 46% since 2005, including 33.9 million pantry users, 1.8 million kitchen ones, and 1.3 million in shelters.
About 5.7 million people (or 1 in 50) get emergency food aid from the system in any given week, an increase of 27% since 2005, and one in eight Americans (37 million people, including 14 million children and three million seniors) are food insecure, meaning they don't get enough to eat. As a result, they need emergency help from food banks throughout the country. The latest data represent "a staggering 46 percent increase since" FA's 2006 study.
"Indeed, the existence of so many people without secure access to adequate nutritious food represents a serious national concern....More than one in three client households are experiencing very low food security - or hunger - a 54 percent increase" compared to 2006.
FA calls food insecurity "a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that varies along a continuum of successive stages as it becomes more severe." In contrast, food security enables "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, health life."
FA agencies serve households across America:
-- 38% of their members are children under 18, compared to 36% in 2005;
-- 8% of household members are elderly, down from 10% in 2005;
-- about 40% are white; 34% black; 20% Hispanic; and the remainder from other racial groups;
-- 36% of households include at least one employed adult, the same as in 2005;
-- 71% of households have incomes below the federal poverty level during the month preceding the survey, up from 69% in 2005;
-- median monthly household income decreased by 7% from $825 to $770 in 2009 dollars; and
-- 10% are homeless, compared to 12% in 2005.
Overall, 75% of client households are food insecure (based on the government's food security scale), an increase from 70% in 2005; 39% of households have low food security; 36% very low.