Hunger in America >
Although we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, 50.2 million people, including more than 17 million children, were at risk of going hungry in 2009 in America. That means that 1 in 6 Americans, and 1 in 4 American children, struggled during the course of the year to acquire adequate food because they had insufficient money or other resources. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but this simply isn’t true. We all know and are in contact with people affected by hunger, even though we might not be aware of it. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet.
While hunger occurs across American society, some populations and communities are disproportionately affected. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 24.9% of African-American households and 26.9% of Latino households were at risk of hunger in 2009. By comparison, the overall proportion of all American households at risk of hunger is 14.7%, a number which drops to 11% for Caucasian households.
Unfortunately, our nation’s children are particularly vulnerable to hunger. Currently, 19.4 million children depend on a free or reduced-price lunch at school each day. For many of these kids, that lunch may be the most nutritious meal they get all day—and sometimes the only meal. Unfortunately, less than half of these children benefit from USDA’s School Breakfast Program, and only 11 percent of them access the Summer Food Service Program when school is out. No child should ever have to go to bed hungry, and in America we have the resources to make sure they aren’t.
The good news is that, in the words of President Obama, “Hunger is a problem that we can solve together.” By coming together as communities and coordinating our efforts, we can eliminate hunger from our midst. Community-based efforts have made tremendous progress towards this goal by forming multi-sector coalitions, conducting rigorous need and resource assessments, and developing and implementing comprehensive plans to end hunger.