September 9, 2015

New USDA Figures Show Millions of Americans Continue to Struggle with Hunger

Even short-term episodes of hunger can cause lasting damage to a child’s development.  Photo: Joe Molieri/Bread for the World

Washington, D.C., September 9, 2015 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that 14 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2014. This number is slowly declining, but remains well above the rates of food insecurity recorded before the Great Recession. The figures are part of the USDA’s annual report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2014. 

“It is time to make ending hunger a national priority,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “It is unacceptable that more than 17 million households in this country are struggling to put food on the table. We live in the most blessed country in the world, yet far too many people are at risk of hunger.” 

The USDA defines food insecurity as “when consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”   

Rates of food insecurity are higher than the national average for households with children, single parent households, black and Hispanic households, and low-income households, namely those with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold. The threat to children is especially high – 15.3 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2014. 

Nearly 1 million children lived in households in which “children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food,” according to the USDA report. Studies show that children who are hungry and at risk of hunger are more likely to struggle in school and have an increased risk for illnesses and weakened immune systems. 

Through Bread for the World’s 2015 Offering of Letters campaign, thousands of churches representing nearly 50 diverse Christian denominations throughout the U.S. have urged Congress to strengthen national child nutrition programs. The law governing these programs expires September 30.

“Congress must pass a child nutrition bill that protects individuals and families who are struggling with hunger,” Mitchell said. “We are making progress in combating food insecurity through vital programs such as SNAP, WIC, and school lunches. However, much more needs to be done to connect children at risk of hunger with the meals they need to learn and grow.” 

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.