December 10, 2015

Hispanic Hunger and Poverty Rates Higher than U.S. Average

Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

Washington, D.C.– Bread for the World has released new information detailing hunger and poverty rates among Hispanics in the United States. The data shows that Hispanics have much higher rates of both poverty and food insecurity than the general population. The data also documents how federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) help lift Hispanic families out of poverty.

“Federal programs such as SNAP play an important role in reducing both hunger and poverty in the Hispanic community,” said Jose Garcia, director of church relations at Bread for the World. “Investments in these programs are critical to people’s health and well-being, and help lift families out of poverty. Much more needs to be done to ensure that they are adequately funded.”   

In 2014, 22.4 percent of Hispanic households were food-insecure, and 24.1 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty, compared with 14 percent and 15.5 percent of the general population, respectively. Federal programs like SNAP provide long-term benefits for health, education, and economic well-being. Last year, SNAP lifted at least 4.7 million people out of poverty—including 2.1 million children.                        

These benefits are particularly important for Hispanic families because in 2013 Hispanics made up 17 percent of the U.S. population but 28 percent of the working poor.                                                                                                                  

The data comes on the heels of a new report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers highlighting how SNAP improves food security and life outcomes for families. At the same time, the current monthly benefit levels are often not sufficient to sustain households through the end of the month.

“Unfortunately, cuts to programs like SNAP mean that families do not have enough food to put on the table,” said Garcia. “This can have a devastating effect. Hospital visits spike, and children’s test scores diminish after SNAP benefits have run out.”   

A report by Bread for the World Institute, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality, documents how food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other physical and mental health conditions. The report estimates that hunger and food insecurity increased health expenditures in the United States by $160 billion in 2014.

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