Even in the world’s greatest food-producing nation, children and adults face poverty and hunger in every county across America. In 2017: 40 million people struggled with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children.
In North Carolina: Almost 900,000 children in North Carolina, according to the NC Department of Public Instruction, are at risk of hunger and not getting the food they need to lead healthy, active lives. More than 693,000 North Carolina students participated in the free or reduced-price lunch program during the 2014-2015 school year.
Children facing hunger often grow up in a family where a parent or parents also face hunger. A family of four facing hunger may be in need of 36 additional meals a month simply because they don’t have money to buy enough food. 84% of households Feeding America serves report buying the cheapest food — instead of healthy food — in order to provide enough to eat. 21% of children in households at risk of hunger may be forced to rely exclusively on charitable organizations like Feeding America to make ends meet.
Nearly 5 million senior citizens currently face hunger in our country. After a lifetime of hard work, 63% of the households with older adults (50+) that Feeding America serves find themselves facing an impossible choice — to buy groceries or medical care. And as the baby-boom generation ages, the number of seniors facing hunger is only expected to increase.
The rate of hunger among seniors aged 60 and older has increased by 45% since 2001, a lingering effect of the 2008-09 recession. At the current rate, the number of food-insecure seniors may grow to more than 8 million by 2050. And hunger pains can be increasingly painful as we age: 63% of senior households served by the Feeding America network are forced to choose between food and medical care. Households served by the Feeding America network that include an adult of the age 50 or older are at an increased risk of having someone with a chronic health condition, including diabetes (41%) and high blood pressure (70%) — conditions that can be mitigated by healthy food options.
African American households face hunger at a rate more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic households. And getting enough to eat is a consistent struggle for 1 in 4 African American children. African American households have a significantly lower household income than white, non-Hispanic households. African Americans are also more than twice as likely to face hunger. The 10 counties with the highest food insecurity rates in the nation are at least 60% African American.
Poverty rates for African Americans in 2017 were more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic individuals. 10% of African Americans live in deep poverty (less than 50% of the federal poverty threshold). This is also fueled by lower pay scale for people of color. While we can't immediately solve that issue, we can help by providing healthy, delicious + fresh meals.
Latino families face hunger at staggering rates in America. One in six Latino households in the United States struggles with hunger. For Latino children, the disparity is even more severe. Nearly 1 in 4 Latino children is at risk of hunger, compared to 12% of White, non-Hispanic children.
As the Latino population continues to grow, the need to reach households facing hunger becomes more urgent by the day. In fact, 20% of the people we serve come from Latino households. And even though the Latino population is working hard to get ahead, daily challenges still exist:
81% of Latino households with children who use the Feeding America network of food banks have at least one family member working
Latinos are less likely to receive help from federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) — compounding the threat of hunger
Latinos are at greater risk of developing diet-related illnesses — making healthy food options even more important
40 million Americans struggle with hunger, the same as the number of people officially living in poverty. Based on annual income, 72% of the households the Feeding America network served in 2014 lived at or below the federal poverty level with a median annual household income of $9,175.