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Hunger and Poverty Facts
- 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 15.9 million children—live in these households. 1
- More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger. 2
- View a state-by-state map of household food insecurity »
More than one in seven people in the United States lives below the poverty line, which is $22,113 for a family of four in 2010. More than one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line. 13
- Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65. 14
- 65 percent of low-income families have at least one working family member, and 79 percent of single mothers who head households work. 15
- In most areas, a family of four needs to earn twice the poverty line to provide children with basic necessities. 16
- Nationally, more than 44 percent of children live in low-income working families (families who earn less than twice the poverty line). 17
- A person working full-time at the minimum wage earns about $14,500 a year. The official poverty line for a family of three—one parent with two children—is $17,568.
- View a map of state-by-state poverty rates »
- Of the more than 20 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day, less than half receive breakfast and only 10 percent access summer feeding sites. 3
- For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food program sites. 4
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Half of all American children will receive SNAP benefits at some point before age 20; 90 percent of African-American children will enroll in SNAP before age 20. 5
- One in seven people are enrolled in SNAP. Nearly half are children. 6
- SNAP participation nearly doubled pre-recession levels, an increase of 18 million people. 7
- More than 90 percent of SNAP benefits are used up by the third week of the month. 8
- View a map of SNAP participation by state »
Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
- One in every two babies born in the United States is enrolled in WIC. 9
- Although 81.3 percent of eligible infants are enrolled in WIC, the program reaches just 47.3 percent of eligible children ages 1 to 4. 10
- View a map of state-by-state child poverty rates »
- Low-income households already spend a greater share of their income on food. Food accounts for 16.4 percent of spending for households making less than $10,000 per year compared to the U.S. average of 12.7 percent. 11
- Participation in federal nutrition programs reduces the risk of girls becoming overweight by increasing access to an adequate, nutritious diet. School-aged girls enrolled in SNAP, school lunch, and school breakfast programs are 68 percent less likely to be overweight than food-insecure girls who do not participate in the programs. 12
1. Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1A, Table 1B)
2. Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1B, Table 3).
5. "Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood," Archives of Pediatric and adolescent Medicine, Vol. 163 (No.11). November 2009.
View additional sources »
6. Monthly Program Data for October 2011. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, September 2011.
7. Monthly Program Data comparing July 2011 and November 2007. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.
8. An Analysis of Food Stamp Benefit Redemption Patterns, Figure 4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, June 2006.
10. WIC Eligibles and Coverage, 1994 to 2007: Estimates of the Population of Women, Infants and Children Eligible for WIC Benefits. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, September 2009. (Table 3).
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2006.
12. Lower Risk of Overweight in School-aged Food-Insecure Girls Who Participate in Food Assistance. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vul. 157, No. 8, pp. 780-784, August 2003.
13. 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplements from the Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011.
14. Urban Institute, Transitioning In and Out of Poverty, 2007.
15. Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011
16. National Center for Children in Poverty, Budgeting for Basic Needs, March 2009.
17. Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011.
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