Federal Safety Net Programs Prove Vital as Number of Hungry Americans Remains High

Sep 05, 2012, 14:27 ET from Bread for the World

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveal that 14.9 percent of American households—including one in six Americans—suffered from food insecurity in 2011. Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table and often don't know where their next meal will come from. In 2011, 16.7 million children lived in such households.

"These figures are unconscionably high, but virtually unchanged since 2008," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "Federal safety net programs are working to keep hunger at bay even as unemployment and poverty remain high."

Nutrition programs like SNAP (The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and school meal programs have kept more Americans from going hungry. The U.S. food insecurity rate reached an all-time high in 2008—the highest on record since the USDA began recording in 1995. The figures remained at that level through 2011.

According to the report, households with children were almost twice as likely to experience food insecurity. Among African-American and Hispanic households with children, food insecurity rates were higher than average. While 20.6 percent of all households with children were food insecure, 29.2 percent of African American households with children and 32.3 percent of Hispanic households with children were food insecure.

"In the world's wealthiest nation, it is deplorable that so many of our children are at risk of hunger," added Beckmann. "Congress has a moral obligation to ensure that programs that support the most vulnerable in our society are protected from budget cuts."

Federally funded safety net programs that helped keep millions of Americans from going hungry in 2011 are currently on the chopping block as Congress continues work on the 2012 farm bill reauthorization and deficit reduction.  

For additional data on food insecurity, visit www.bread.org.   

Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

SOURCE Bread for the World