FRAC Releases 2011 Food Hardship Data, with Rates for the Nation, Regions, States, 100 Large Metropolitan Areas, and Every Congressional District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Adach, 202-986-2200 x3018
Washington, D.C. – February 27, 2012 – New food hardship data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) show continuing struggles with hunger for millions throughout 2011, as nearly one in five Americans said there were times they didn’t have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.
FRAC’s food hardship report (pdf) analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” The report contains data throughout 2011 for every state, region, congressional district, and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSA). Gallup asked the question of 352,789 households in 2011.
Nationally, 18.6 percent of respondents reported food hardship in 2011, an increase from the 2010 level of 18 percent and the highest annual rate in the four years that FRAC has been tracking these data. Food hardship reached every part of the country:
“Rising food prices, continuing high unemployment and underemployment, and flat food stamp benefit allotments all contributed to the high food hardship rate in 2011,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Particularly challenging was the increase in food inflation, especially for the foods the government uses to construct the Thrifty Food Plan, its cheapest diet. Food stamp beneficiaries lost more than six percent of their food purchasing power because of this increase.”
The report was released as more than 700 anti-hunger advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America. The conference will culminate on Tuesday (February 28, 2012) with a day on Capitol Hill, and attendees will share state, MSA, and congressional district data with their lawmakers.
Recent polling data, released last month by FRAC, demonstrate the broad support among Americans for the federal nutrition programs and for a stronger role by government in ending hunger. Seven in 10 voters said the federal government should have a major role to ensure that low-income families and children have the food and nutrition they need. Seventy-seven percent of voters say that cutting food stamp assistance (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) would be the wrong way to reduce government spending.
“Even in difficult times, this nation has the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone. It is crucial that the nation strengthen employment and wages, and improve the federal nutrition programs so benefits are more adequate and so they reach more households. These data show that no state or urban area or congressional district is anywhere close to being hunger-free, and that more must be done to solve this problem,” said Weill. “Polls demonstrate that Americans want the government to attack hunger aggressively, and they reject attempts to cut anti-hunger efforts. It is time to demand that elected officials tackle hunger with the zeal that the situation – and the public – demand.”
The full report is available at www.frac.org.
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