For Immediate Release:
September 6, 2017
Hunger Leaders Call for Monetary Donations to Local Groups, and for Government to Ensure Rapid and Robust Food Response to Harvey;
React to New Federal Report Showing Still- High Texas and US Hunger
New USDA Data: One in Seven Texans – and 41.2 Million Americans –
Still Struggle Against Hunger
One in seven Texans (14.3 percent) lived in a households that couldn’t afford an adequate supply of food in 2014- 2016, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Fully 41.2 million Americans – including 12.9 million children – struggled against hunger nationwide in 2016, according to the report. In contrast, in 2007, before the recession, 36 million Americans – and 17 million children – suffered from food insecurity. Hunger leaders attributed the high level of overall hunger to low wages and cuts in government programs, but said the decrease in child hunger was likely due to increasing participation of children in school breakfast and summer meals programs.
The report found that there are roughly the same number of food insecure households in cities as in suburbs. Roughly 5.1 million food insecure households were in suburbs, while nearly 5.3 million food insecure households were in cities. Rural America had a higher percentage of food insecure families (15 percent) than in urban (14.2 percent) and suburban (9.5 percent) America. Commented Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, “These new numbers again prove that President Trump’s repeated implication that poverty is in ‘inner cities’ is misleading at best.”
At the time of this report, the number of people in the U.S. struggling against hunger exceeds the combined populations of Texas, Michigan, and Maine. President Donald Trump’s first budget proposed $192 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly called food stamp) benefits, and the U.S. House Majority Budget Resolution would cut programs (including SNAP) serving low- and moderate-income people by $2.9 trillion from 2018-2027.
Ruth Riley – general manager for the WNBA team the San Antonio Stars, former WNBA All-Star, NCAA and WNBA Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and board member for Hunger Free America, said: “The continued high level of hunger in America is a crisis that must be addressed. This is an issue that I am deeply passionate about, and one that hits home on a very personal level. As a kid, I had limited knowledge of the food stamps my mom obtained or that the schools meals I was eating were paid for by the federal government, but I just knew that, somehow, when we needed it, there was always food. Because I had this food, I was able to learn and focus in school, which ultimately led me to graduate with honors from the University of Notre Dame. It also fueled my real passion, basketball. I’m grateful and proud of the success I’ve had in winning championships at the collegiate, professional, and Olympic levels. I often joke that growing up I was tall, lanky and uncoordinated. Looking back, I can’t imagine what my path would have been if I’d been tall, lanky, uncoordinated...and hungry. When times were tough, the nutrition I received through programs like food stamps and school meals helped me grow stronger.”
Said Eric Cooper, President and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, “Disaster recovery is a long term effort. It will take weeks, months and even longer for families impacted by Hurricane Harvey to stabilize their lives and get back on the road to self-sufficiency. They will need the community’s assistance for a long time. At the same time, many people struggle with the daily disaster of poverty which leads to hunger. As we continue to fight hunger in Texas we urge the local, state and federal governments to work together to provide assistance for those in need.”
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a national direct service and advocacy non-profit organization, said: “I urge anyone who can afford to do so to donate money to the San Antonio Food Bank and other Texas food banks. But even before Harvey hit, Texas had one of the worst rates of hunger in the nation. The charitable sector can’t fully respond to this massive new crisis – on top of the pre-existing hunger crises in Texas – alone. I urge the federal, state, and local governments to work together to not only get food charities the help they need, but also to make government commodities and disaster SNAP benefits available easily and widely in the impacted areas.”
Other findings of the USDA report:
- Female headed households (single mothers) continued to be the most food insecure households in the United States. Fully 31.6 percent of female headed households were food insecure in 2016.
- While the largest number of hungry Americans were White; Black and Hispanic Americans were more than twice as likely to be food insecure as Whites.
- In eight percent of households with children, one or more child was food insecure in 2016.