February 20, 2015

African-Americans Disproportionately Affected by Hunger Despite Economic Upturn

African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of hunger and poverty despite the growing economy, according to a new analysis released today by Bread for the World. The shortage of good, stable jobs and the impact of mass incarceration on the community continues to worsen the situation.

“As African-Americans, we still suffer from some of the highest rates of hunger and poverty in the country despite the growth of our country’s economy since 2008,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “The lack of jobs that pay fair wages is preventing people of color from moving out of poverty and the recession.”

The median income for African-Americans in 2013 (latest available data) was $24,864, significantly lower than the median for all Americans. Poverty affected nearly three out of ten African-Americans or nearly twice the average rate for the general population. The same rates hold in terms of their ability to feed their families.

The problem is worsened by the effects of mass incarceration; currently the United States holds the highest number of people in prison in the world. “Incarceration for non-violent criminal offenses aggravates the situation for black people in America since these laws, time and again, put people of color behind bars at a higher rate than white people for the same offense,” said Mitchell.

African-Americans constitute nearly half of the total 2.3 million prison population in the country. Once a person has a criminal record, the act of providing for one’s self and family becomes exponentially harder. Many states deny returning citizens access to such programs as SNAP, even while they look for work. For those who are lucky to land a job, their yearly earnings are reduced by as much as 40 percent. “The best way to combat hunger and poverty in the African-American community is through jobs that pay fair wages, strong safety-net programs, and by ensuring laws are in place to protect people and not further marginalize them from society,” Mitchell added.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • 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...

For Advocacy

Faith

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Insight

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