Study: One in 7 Americans turn to food banks

An employee of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin moves a pallet of food that will be used to help feed families struggling with hunger in the Milwaukee area. (Photo: Feeding America)


 
One in seven Americans – more than 46 million people, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors  – rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families, according to a new study from Feeding America, a provider of charitable food assistance to low-income Americans.

In what Feeding America says is “the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking food assistance in the United States ever conducted,” more than 60,000 people confidentially answered questions about their personal circumstances.

The study represents findings from 200 Feeding America food banks, which annually provide more than 3 billion meals to people facing hunger through 58,000 food pantries and meal service programs that serve every community in the nation.

Key statistics from the report include:

  • Among food bank clients, 43 percent are white (1 in 10 white people in America), 26 percent are black (1 in 4 black people in America), and 20 percent are Latino (1 in 6 Latinos in America).
  • Ten percent of adult clients are students.
  • In a typical month, nearly 2 million volunteers contribute more than 8.4 million hours of their time to help provide food through Feeding America network agency programs. That’s more than 100 million hours of donated labor across the Feeding America network over the course of a year.
  • About 620,000 households that seek food assistance from a Feeding America network agency each year include at least one member who is currently serving in the U.S. Military. This represents an estimated 1 in 4 households with a member currently serving in the U.S. Military receiving food assistance from the Feeding America network.
  • Twenty percent of households served by the Feeding America network include someone who is a veteran or who has ever served in the U.S. Military.
  • Seventy-nine percent of households surveyed report purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthiest option, in an effort to provide enough food for their household.
  • The median annual income of Feeding America clients is $9,175.

Hunger in America 2014 was peer reviewed by a technical advisory team including researchers from American University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Urban Institute. Confidential responses were collected on touchscreen tablets by more than 6,000 trained data collectors, most of whom were volunteers. The study was funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Below is a Feeding America video about the results of the study:

 

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Updated: August 18, 2014 — 11:52 am

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