One in 8 Americans struggles with hunger, and the recession continues to take its toll. The US Department of Agriculture reports that more than 35 million Americans received food stamps in June 2009, up 22 percent from June 2008. That's a new record for food stamp participation and the trend tends to track with unemployment rates.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading anti-hunger advocacy group states:
Very simply, hunger is defined as the uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food. When we talk about hunger in America, we refer to the ability of people to obtain sufficient food for their household. Some people may find themselves skipping meals or cutting back on the quality or quantity of food they purchase at the stores.
The housing crisis appears to have a significant impact on food intake for those losing homes due to foreclosure. A recent study of 250 Philadelphia homeowners facing foreclosure, almost 60 percent reported skipping meals because they couldn't afford food. Among the group, over half indicated being depressed, 37 percent had major depression and nearly half said they couldn't afford prescription drugs.
U.S. groups disproportionately affected by hunger include children, especially in homes with single parents, African Americans and Hispanics. FRAC reports the ten states with the highest food insecurity rates are Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Maine, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, according to USDA 2007 data.
September is Hunger Action Month, and Feeding America has developed an online calculator to show how giving up a little could translate into meals for hungry people in the United States. So far the graph shows that the top three things site responders would be willing to give up are lunch out, dessert and gossip magazines. I'd dump gossip magazines in a heart beat over giving up dessert!
Our family recently made a donation to Share Our Strength during an anti-hunger Twitter-fest. If you're considering making a donation to address hunger in America, consider contributing to your local food bank. Or check out these prominent anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups: