More families face food hardships

CAFCA | September 13, 2018 |


After several years of decline, the number of American households struggling to afford food for themselves and their families increased in 2017.

According to a new report by the Food Research & Action Center, 15.7 percent of households faced food hardship in 2017, an increase from 15.1 in 2016. Until now, the rate had been declining since 2013, when it was 18.9 percent.


The How Hungry is America? report defines food hardship as the inability for people to afford enough food for themselves and their families.


Despite a low unemployment rate and economic growth in the U.S., Jim Weill, president of the Food Research & Action Center said people are still getting left behind and struggling to feed themselves and their loved ones.


"While often hidden behind closed doors, food hardship is a serious national problem that requires a serious national response," Weill said in a press release. "Too many people in every region, state, and community have been left behind in the economic recovery from the Great Recession, and are still struggling to put food on the table."

The struggle to afford food varies geographically. At least 1 in 7 households struggled with food hardships from 2016 to 2017 in 24 states and Washington, D.C. The Southwest United States (ArkansasLouisianaNew MexicoOklahoma and Texas) had the most trouble affording food, at 19.3 percent. The Southeast region was second worse-off at 17.1 percent. All other regions of the country were at 15 percent or less.


Among the states, Mississippi struggled the most at 22 percent of households reporting they did not have enough money to buy food. North Dakota struggled the least, but still, 8 percent of its residents couldn't afford food from 2016 to 2017, the report found.


Food hardships were even worse in households with children, rising almost one full percentage point from 17.5 percent in 2016 to 18.4 percent in 2017. The rate of food hardship for households with children is 1.3 percent times higher than for households without, according to the report.


At least 1 in 5 households with children in 10 states and Washington, D.C. struggled affording food. At 25.8 percent, Mississippi was the worst state again for food hardships among households with children.


The report stated that stagnant wages, inflation and inadequate support from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are contributing factors to food hardship. Additionally, more full-time jobs with schedules that fit the needs of working parents are needed. Weill added that Congress needs to take more action as well.