Hunger in America 2014 Local Study
Is Hunger a Problem?
Only if you are a child... who can't concentrate in school because he didn't eat dinner last night.
Or an elderly woman... who can’t control her high blood pressure because she must choose between food and life-sustaining medicine.
Or a single parent... who struggles through a long day of work wondering whether to pay her electric bill or buy food.
Faced with limited resources, one out of six Americans turns to government food assistance programs to achieve a measure of food security. Other Americans respond to food insecurity by skipping meals, substituting less expensive, less nutritious alternatives, or seeking emergency food from soup kitchens or food pantries. They worry nearly all the time about money running out to buy food for the children. They survive on low-cost pasta, potatoes and fat.
Hunger is a condition of poverty. Living below the poverty line puts tremendous strain on a household budget, adversely affecting the ability to purchase a nutritionally adequate diet. In the last 5 years, the number of working poor has outpaced the overall employment increase and there is an ever increasing population of working poor families who live below the poverty line and struggle to provide their families with nutritionally adequate diets, let alone keep food on the table. It is not surprising that impoverished people make choices between paying for food and other necessities, such as utilities, housing, or medical care. Unfortunately this trend continues today.
Just because we don't see emaciated children with swollen bellies walking around the streets, doesn't mean that food insecurity and malnutrition are not major problems. Hidden hunger is found most often in seniors, children, the working poor and the poorest of the poor. Hidden hunger often is:
- the senior who eats only inexpensive noodles, because within the American healthcare system over 25% of low income people have to choose between buying food and paying for medication.
- the overweight but undernourished woman, whose limited food budget restricts her access to fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
- the family who faces a choice between buying food or buying heat.
- the child who cannot concentrate in school because he/she does not have regular access to nutritious foods.