News / USA

    One in Seven US Households Struggles to Afford Food

    One in Seven US Households Struggles to Afford Food
    One in Seven US Households Struggles to Afford Food

    More than 17 million American households had trouble affording adequate food in 2010, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    That's basically unchanged from 2009, but up sharply from 13 million in 2007.

    "This report today underscores what we know: that household food insecurity remains a serious problem in the United States," says USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.

    The USDA report shows the lingering effects of a bad economy. More people have struggled to afford adequate food ever since the economy crashed in late 2007. About one in ten households had trouble affording food that year. In 2008, that figure went up to one in seven. The new report shows it has stayed there ever since.

    "Slow-moving disaster"

    "This is a disaster. It's a slow-moving disaster," says Dave Krepcho, head of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which provides food for 3.5 million people in six Florida counties.

    Krepcho knows about disasters. When hurricanes hit the state -- as they do fairly often -- Second Harvest helps distribute food to people in need. Four hurricanes struck Florida in 2004. But those were short-term events.

    "For the past two years," he says, "our monthly distribution exceeds...our disaster relief after four hurricanes criss-crossed the state. Every single month is beyond that."

    One relative bright spot in the USDA report is that the number of households in the most which someone actually went hungry declined slightly last year, from 6.8 million to 6.4 million.

    Private sector steps up

    Donations from the private sector have helped take food banks take on some of the extra burden, says spokesman Ross Fraser with the Feeding America national network of food banks.

    "Corporate America has really stepped forward and has helped us both with food and with funds," he says.

    Major supermarket chains, big retailers and food manufacturers have made big donations in the last few years, according to Fraser, and farm groups contributed 270 million kilograms of fresh produce in the last year alone.

    "For a hunger relief organization to be able to provide fresh produce to low-income Americans for whom produce is often out of reach financially has been tremendously helpful," he adds.

    Federal programs grow...and get cut

    Aid from the federal government kept the number of hungry people from increasing despite persistent unemployment, says USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon.

    "To me, it is a reflection of the impact of these 15 federal nutrition programs that are working as has been intended over many, many years," he says. "They are intended to meet the critical needs of families struggling to put food on the table until they can get back on their feet."

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest of those federal programs, enrolled nearly 19 million households last year. That's up from almost 12 million in 2007.

    But advocates are concerned about next year as Congress discusses major cuts to the federal budget. The House of Representatives passed a budget cutting 10 percent from a $6 billion nutrition program for pregnant women and young children. House leaders say the budget reflects tough choices that reduce the massive federal deficit.

    Anti-hunger advocates disagree with those choices. "We can reduce the U.S. federal deficit without making hungry people hungrier," says David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "It's just not right to attack programs that help people that are struggling to feed their kids."

    The Senate has not passed its version of the bill yet. Beckmann says his group and others are hoping to convince lawmakers to spare social safety net programs from further cuts.

    But with the federal debt nearing $15 trillion, many in Congress say everything is on the table.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora