USDA Report Shows That Food Insecurity Remains High; More Than 50 Million Americans Face Hunger
In Maine, nearly 200,000 people are at risk of going hungry
Auburn, ME (Sept. 13, 2012) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported on September 5 that 14.7 percent of Maine households are considered food insecure, meaning they lack access to sufficient amounts of food. Overall, that’s approximately 200,000 Mainers who are at risk of hunger.
Nationally, there are over 50 million Americans facing hunger in the US, with nearly 17 million being children. That means 1 in 6 Americans lives in a household where they worry about where they will get their next meal.
The report, which highlights food insecurity at national and state levels, shows that the number of households struggling with food insecurity remains well above pre-recession totals. In 2007, the number of food insecure individuals was 36 million. The following year that number skyrocketed to 50 million, and has remained at or near that level for the past four years.
In addition, the US Census Bureau released data on September 12 stating that 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty.
“The number of people facing food insecurity in Maine has remained relatively unchanged in the last year,” said Clara McConnell, communications manager at Good Shepherd Food Bank. “The fact that the number has not increased tells us that our statewide hunger relief network is making a difference for the tens of thousands of Maine families we serve. But there is much more work to be done to eliminate hunger in Maine.”
And without vital federal nutrition programs, the situation could be much worse.
As unemployment rose during the Great Recession, more people became eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and more eligible people began participating in the program. SNAP, sometimes referred to as food stamps, responded well during the recession to reach those people in need, and research shows that SNAP benefits help reduce food insecurity and also help to reduce the depth and severity of poverty.
Even though unemployment is stuck at over 8 percent nationally and food and gas prices are on the rise, Congress has proposed harsh funding cuts and harmful program changes in the 2012 Farm Bill. They are also considering other deficit reduction proposals that would cause hundreds of thousands of families to see their benefits reduced and millions of individuals to lose benefits completely.
“Although the Great Recession was declared over, we see from the numbers reported today that more than 50 million Americans are still struggling to feed their families,” said Matt Knott, interim President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest anti-hunger organization. “And yet there are some in our nation’s capital who are proposing damaging cuts to vital federal nutrition programs that have been proven to reduce household food insecurity.”
“With so many of our neighbors, friends and family worrying about where their next meal may be coming from, now is not the time to use federal nutrition programs as a trading chip to balance the budget,” said Knott.
As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, Feeding America’s network of more than 200 food banks supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors through 61,000 agencies.
Here in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes 13 million pounds of food a year to more than 600 partner agencies in all 16 counties. More than 40 percent of the people served by Good Shepherd Food Bank’s hunger relief network are children.
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
The largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for those at risk of hunger by acquiring surplus and purchased food and distributing that food to more than 600 partner agencies across Maine. Since 1981, the Food Bank has partnered with individuals, businesses, and farmers to alleviate hunger and build community relationships. In 2011 the Food Bank distributed 13 million pounds of food to families in need. Phone: (207) 782-3554; Website: www.gsfb.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.
About Feeding America
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.
# # #
Good Shepherd Food Bank
(207) 782-3554 ext. 2107