50 Million Americans Food Insecure in 2009

One out of seven American households had difficulty providing enough food to all their members in 2009, according to the USDA. Food Security in the United States 2009 reports that the number of food insecure Americans is essentially unchanged from the previous year, and remains at the highest level since the survey began in 1995. One-third of these families had very low food security, meaning that members in 6.8 million households had reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns due to lack of money or other resources. Over 36% of female-headed households with children were food insecure. Black and Hispanic households were more than twice as likely as white (non Hispanic) households to experience food insecurity.

Government Lifeline
As grim as these numbers are, they could be worse. Government programs were clearly lifelines for millions of hungry Americans last year. More than 1 in 10 Americans participated in the SNAP (formerly known as food stamp) program in 2009 each month, an increase of 18.7% over 2008. On any given school day, 31.3 million low-income school children received free or reduced-price lunch — up 5.4% from 2008. That’s an additional million kids needing help to get school lunch.

Hunger and Shame
Some 5.6 million households used food pantries one or more times, up 18% over 2008.  But the demand might have been greater: 65% of food insecure households surveyed reported that they knew there was a food pantry in their neighborhood but they did not use it.

“This report highlights just how critical federal nutrition assistance programs are for American families in need,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, “We anticipate that food security will improve as the economy improves but in the near-term, without these benefits, many families would face far more severe problems getting the nutritious food they need.”

One person’s handout is another’s hope. As Republicans and Tea Partiers call for smaller government, it is terrifying to think about what this country would look like now if these assistance programs had been ended or cut.

Photo: © Renata Osinska via iStockphoto

93 comments

Carla Manning
Carla Manning5 years ago

Remember..randoms act of kindness are what truly change the world.

Marianne Good
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago

thanx for article

Erica Bastow
Erica B.6 years ago

You know what is really sad...right here on Care2? On another article, a few (luckily a VERY few) people wrote that we shouldn't donate to food pantries that aren't vegan...if they are supplying the disadvantaged with meat and other animal products they should be boycotted! Now how cruel is THAT?

We need to concentrate on being humane to humans first...and until we as a society do so...we are going to be incapable of helping animals at all! And quite honestly, as inhumane as factory farms are, I personally REFUSE to boycott ANY charity that gives food to the poor...even a butchered turkey!

Kaye S.
Rev. Dr. Kaye S.6 years ago

If Americans are too proud to go to the food banks, then they get what they deserve.

Jennifer Martin
Jennifer M.6 years ago

And there are still obese people everywhere you look. It disgusts me that people can be so selfish and greedy!!!

Dean P.
Dean P.6 years ago

Without food assistance programs.. there would be many more hungry people in the USA

jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

We all know the food insecure but do we help???

Sara G.
Sara G.6 years ago

For those who are generous and give to the food banks (bless you), please remember that many of these people don't have a way to heat the food - or just don't know how. Some of these people do not have homes.

Adam K.
Douglas K.6 years ago

Food foraging is bigtime. Health food Gurus like Matt Monarch and his wife forage everyday and throw it in the blender. http://www.therawfoodworld.com/blog/ Wildman Steve Brill is another guru resource as well. Then there are cheap bulk stores that sell 25 pound sacks of grains and beans for just a few dollars. And there's the wholesale food market downtown. The government can "get it for you wholeslae". So why then support high-priced small quantity convenience store shopping with food script for the poor? I mean the government knows who they are who are receiving government subsistence money. The government has a list. Why not dropov mass quantities of whole organic foodstuffs to their place of residence? It is a puzzlement how the corrupt treasury surplus looting schemes have gone one step beyond into looting ahead of time with huge deficits and national debt, how corrupt that is I couldn't tell you. And for what so they can support the market capitalist system with their script. Wasteful and inefficient use of resources.