Hunger and food insecurity are issues that face many American families. This issue is not reserved to families living below the poverty line, but food insecurity also affects families who are dealing with unemployment or very low-incomes. When families do not have enough money, choices are often made between their many needs such as housing, transportation, utilities, and more, resulting in food insecurity or hunger.
In addition, too many families simply do not have enough money to buy healthy nutritious foods that are less processed, and “clean” and natural. There are many unhealthy options that are lower in cost such as fast food, sugary foods and drinks, and high carbohydrate processed foods.
Following are statistics on food insecurity and hunger in America and our local region.
“Poverty and hunger in America often go hand in hand, but poverty is not the ultimate determinant of food insecurity. People living above the poverty line are often at risk of hunger as well. Research demonstrates that unemployment, rather than poverty, is a better predictor of food insecurity among people living in the United States. The most recent government statistics on poverty collected show that in 2015,
- 43.1 million people (13.5 percent) were in poverty, including 14.5 million (20 percent) children under the age of 18.
- 42.2 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including more than 13 million children.”
In New York City:
“Nearly half of all working-age New York State and New York City residents who can’t afford enough food live in households where at least one person is employed. In both the state and city, the minimum wage is now $8.75 per hour, equaling $15,925 for a year of full-time work, leaving a worker with even one child below the federal poverty line.
Many New Yorkers are paid at or near the minimum wage – and significant numbers are even illegally paid below that. As a result, in 2012-2014, one million New York State residents lived in households that included at least one person working but food insecure or, in other words, were unable to afford enough food. Of the adults between the ages of 15 and 65 in the state who were food insecure, 47% were working.
In New York City alone in 2012-2014, more than 450,000 residents lived in food insecure households that included at least one person working. Forty-eight percent of all adults between 15 and 65 in the city who were food insecure were employed.”
In New Jersey:
“The number of children living in extreme poverty – roughly $9,500 a year for a family of three – rose an alarming 32% from 2008 to 2012. For 81% of these families, housing costs consumed too large a share of family budgets, leaving less for other necessities such as food, clothing, or transportation. For those with young children, 24% of their income went for childcare in licensed day care centers. This means roughly one-third of New Jersey children live in families earning too little to meet their needs.
The number of children living in families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps) continued to rise, increasing 65% to roughly 415,000 children in 2013. SNAP which is supplemental in nature, is New Jersey’s first line of defense in fighting hunger. Likewise, the number of children eligible for free- or reduced-price school meals grew 22% from the 2008/2009 to 2012/2013 school years.”