According to a new study released by the Food Research and Action Center (based on data collected by Callup), nearly 1 in 5 Americans is struggling with hunger.
Here are some of the findings:
- Food hardship in the Gallup survey for the nation as a whole rose from 16.3 percent of respondent households in the first quarter of 2008 to 19.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. In 2009, the rate dropped slightly, with the rate in the four quarters of 2009 hovering between 17.9 and 18.8 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2009, it was 18.5 percent.
- The food hardship rate is even worse for households with children. Respondents in such households reported food hardship at a rate 1.62 times that of other households – 24.1 percent versus 14.9 percent in 2009.
- In 2009, in 20 states, more than one in five respondents said that they experienced food hardship; in 45 states more than 15 percent reported food hardship. For households with children, in 22 states one quarter or more of respondents reported food hardship.
- Of the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), 82 had 15 percent or more of respondents answering that they did not have enough money to buy needed food at times in the last 12 months. For the 50 largest MSAs, 15 had more than one in four households with children reporting food hardship.
- Of the 436 Congressional Districts (including the District of Columbia), 311 had a food hardship rate of 15 percent or higher. In 139 of them the rate was 20 percent or higher. Practically every Congressional District in the country had more than a tenth of respondents reporting food hardship.
Clearly, food hardship—running out of money to buy the food that families need—is a national problem. It is a national problem both because the rate is appallingly high and because it touches virtually every corner (almost every state, Metropolitan Statistical Area, and Congressional District) of the nation.
So, while mainstream economists dither on about per capita income levels, the current crises of capitalism are throwing people out of work, lowering the wages of many others who still have a job, and making it impossible for millions in both groups to put a decent amount of food on the table.