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Food Hardship in America 2012: Data for the Nation, States, 100 MSAs, and Every Congressional District

March 1, 2013 Comments off

Food Hardship in America 2012: Data for the Nation, States, 100 MSAs, and Every Congressional District (PDF)

Source: Food Research and Action Center

From press release:

Millions of Americans continued in 2012 to struggle to afford enough food, according to new, up-to-date food hardship data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). More than one in six Americans (18.2 percent) said in 2012 that there had been times over the past 12 months that they didn’t have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.

FRAC’s food hardship report – Food Hardship in America 2012 – 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 2012 for every state, region, congressional district, and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSA).

The 18.2 percent national rate in 2012 was virtually unchanged from the rates in 2009, 2010, and 2011, as families continued to struggle with under- and unemployment, low wages, and inadequate government supports. The report found that food hardship rates remain too high, and that no corner of the country is immune from this struggle.

  • Mississippi may have the worst rate among states, with one in four households reporting food hardship, but 42 states had rates of 15 percent of more. Even the “best” state, booming North Dakota, has one in ten households struggling with food hardship – just as unacceptable a problem given its prosperity.
  • The worst MSAs may be Bakersfield, California and New Orleans, but 92 of 100 MSAs have at least one in eight (12.5 percent or more) households reporting food hardship.
  • And, the worst congressional district may be in New York City, but 354 congressional districts – including rural, suburban and urban districts – have rates of 12.5 percent or more.
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A Tightening Squeeze: The Declining Expenditures on Food by American Households

March 26, 2012 Comments off

A Tightening Squeeze: The Declining Expenditures on Food by American Households (PDF)
Source: Food Research and Action Center

Throughout the past decade – both before the recession and since the recession hit – tens of millions of American families have faced a growing struggle to afford an adequate, healthy diet. In this analysis of federal data, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) looks at what has happened to food spending by the median household (and the median household among certain race and ethnic groups).

The data chart a truly stunning drop in household expenditures from 2000 to 2010. Food spending for households fell dramatically in 2000–2002 and 2006–2010. The median household spent an eighth less in 2010 than in 2000, with spending measured against a barebones government-established food budget.

There is a raft of data showing the stagnant and falling wages, incomes and assets of American households over the decade – especially in in the years since the recession started – and how that has had disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic households. This FRAC analysis shows those economic forces have so adversely affected food spending that tens of millions of households are no longer spending enough to purchase adequate, healthy food. This is particularly true of Black and Hispanic households.

To measure spending levels, FRAC uses U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) annual data that compare the amount of households’ median spending on food to the amount of the Thrifty Food Plan – the level the government defines as needed for a barebones diet on an emergency basis – albeit a level which is inadequate for most families to obtain a healthy diet.

Measured this way, the data show that:

  • Spending on food by the median household fell from 1.36 times the Thrifty Food Plan level in 2000 to 1.19 times that level in 2010.
  • By 2010 median spending on food by Black households and Hispanic households had fallen to the point where it was only a tiny bit above (101 percent for Black households) or was actually below (96 percent for Hispanic households) the Thrifty Food Plan level.
  • Other groups of households whose median food spending dropped from above the Thrifty level in 2000 to below it in 2010 were: households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line; and food insecure households.

A Half-Empty Plate: Fruit and Vegetable Affordability and Access Challenges in America

January 21, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Food Research and Action Center
Among all households across the years 2008-2010, 8.2 percent of Gallup respondents reported that it was “not easy to get affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.” The rate of the affordability and access challenge among households with children was slightly higher: 9.0 percent.
Confirming the results of a number of other studies, Hispanics and Blacks in the Gallup survey reported considerably higher rates of difficulty in accessing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, compared to Whites and Asians. Similarly, fresh fruit and vegetable affordability and access challenges were greater for households with lower incomes. Those with annual household income less than $24,000 reported problems 2½ times as frequently than those with incomes between $60,000 and $89,999 (13.8 percent vs. 5.7 percent).
Among the biggest differences observed in affordability and accessibility challenges in the study were those in the food hardship analysis. Among those in households with food hardship (answering “yes” to the Gallup 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?”), 18.5 percent reported affordability and accessibility problems, while only 5.7 percent of those in households without food hardship reported such challenges.
The largest disparity came when measured against self-reported health status. Among people reporting poor health status, the prevalence of fruit and vegetable affordability and access challenges was four times that of people reporting excellent health status (20.0 percent vs. 5.0 percent).

Nearly One in Four of Nation’s Households with Children Report Inability to Afford Enough Food

October 14, 2011 Comments off

Nearly One in Four of Nation’s Households with Children Report Inability to Afford Enough Food
Source: Food Research and Action Center

Nearly one in four U.S. households with children struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010, according to a new report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The analysis separately examines food hardship rates – the inability to afford enough food – for households with children and without children nationally and in every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).

FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series 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 interviewed more than one million households 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 analysis released today shows that food hardship rates are very high both for households with children and for households without children. Nationally in 2010 the food hardship rate for households without children was 14.9 percent, and it was 23.4 percent for families with children.

When examining state data just for households without children, every state (except for one) reports food hardship rates higher than 10 percent in 2009-2010 and five states report rates of 20 percent or higher.

But, not surprisingly, given relative national poverty and hunger rates, the situation for households with children is far worse.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Participation in Summer Nutrition Programs Continues Downward Trend

July 4, 2011 Comments off

Participation in Summer Nutrition Programs Continues Downward Trend
Source: Food Research and Action Center

Participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs continued to erode in summer 2010 as recession-driven cuts in summer schools and youth programs led to fewer sites that could offer summer meals. Since July 2008, total participation nationwide in the Summer Nutrition Programs has dropped by 90,000 children, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

FRAC measures how well the Summer Nutrition Programs are reaching children in need by comparing the number of low-income children receiving summer meals to those receiving free and reduced-price school meals during the normal school year. In July 2010, only 15 children received Summer Nutrition for every 100 low-income students who received lunch on an average day in the 2009-2010 school year, a significant decrease from 2009’s ratio of 16:100.

Continuing fallout from the Great Recession contributed to the worsening reach of summer food. While more children used the regular school year food programs, budget cuts in many states caused school districts to eliminate or reduce their summer programs. The decrease in programs where food can be served makes it more difficult for the Summer Nutrition Programs to respond to children’s need.

+ Full Report (PDF)

44 Million Americans Received SNAP/Food Stamps in February 2011: Record Enrollment Continues Due to Economic Conditions, Outreach and Program Improvements

May 14, 2011 Comments off

44 Million Americans Received SNAP/Food Stamps in February 2011: Record Enrollment Continues Due to Economic Conditions, Outreach and Program Improvements
Source: Food Research and Action Center

In February 2011, SNAP/Food Stamps participation rose to a record 44,199,091 people, an increase of 11,417 individuals from January 2011, and an increase of more than 4.6 million people compared with the prior February.

One in seven Americans receives SNAP/Food Stamps. This is the highest share of the U.S. population on SNAP/Food Stamps.

Also in 2010, one in five Americans struggled with “food hardship,” according to FRAC analysis of data collected through the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project.

+ February 2011 Participation Tables — 1-Month Change, 1-Year Change, and State-by-state analysis (PDF)
+ Historic Trends: 1998 – 2010

Nearly One in Five Americans Report Inability to Afford Enough Food

March 7, 2011 Comments off

Nearly One in Five Americans Report Inability to Afford Enough Food
Source: Food Research and Action Center

Nearly one in five Americans struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010, according to a new report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The report also reveals the extent of this struggle through 2010 in every congressional district and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSA), providing a unique up-to-date examination of how millions of American households in every part of the country continue to face a struggle with hunger.

The report 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?”

Gallup’s data reveal pervasive food hardship at every level:

  • The annual rate of food hardship in 2010 was 18 percent, down slightly from the 2009 level of 18.3 percent. The rate peaked in 2008, increasing from 16.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 19.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
  • In the last few months of 2010, some of the highest rates in the three year period were reached—the October 2010 rate of 19.3 percent had been exceeded only in November-December 2008.
  • The variations in food hardship by region in 2010 were substantial. In the starkest difference, the rate in the Southeast (21.1 percent) and Southwest (20.8 percent) is one-third higher than in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
  • In 21 states in 2010, one in five or more respondents answered the food hardship question in the affirmative; in 45 states, 15 percent or more answered the question “yes.” The states with the highest rates of food hardship were overwhelmingly from the Southeast, Southwest and West.
  • Eighty-five of the 100 largest MSAs had 15 percent or more of households affirmatively answering this question. In only three MSAs was it below 12.5 percent (one in eight respondents). Most of the MSAs with the highest rates of food insecurity were in the Southeast and Southwest, and in California.
  • In 177 of the 436 congressional districts (including the District of Columbia), one-fifth or more of all respondent households reported food hardship in the 2009-2010 period. 324 districts had a rate 15 percent or higher. Only 17 had fewer than one in ten respondents reporting food hardship.

+ Food Hardship in America – Data for the Nation, States, 100 MSAs, and Every Congressional District (PDF)

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