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
TEXT SIZE - +

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.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid