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New Survey Finds Two in Five D.C. Households with Children Unable to Afford Enough Food in 2008-2009
Report Exposes Broad Hunger and Provides First-Ever Food Hardship Data for Every State, the Top 100 Large Cities and Every Congressional District
Washington, D.C. – January 26, 2010 – More than 20 percent of households in the District of Columbia reported in 2009 not having enough money to buy food that they needed during the prior 12 months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), titled Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger - Data for the Nation, States, 100 MSAs, and Every Congressional District. But, the rate of food hardship in 2008-2009 for households with children was considerably higher than for other households – almost three times as high. In D.C., 40.6 percent of households with children said that they had difficulty affording enough food compared to just 12.5 percent of households without children.
“Two in five D.C. households with children say they cannot afford enough food. That’s a shocking statistic,” said Alex Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “These findings vividly underscore that more must be done, and quickly, to help struggling families.”
These data come from a new report from FRAC, which contains new 2008 and 2009 data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every state, every Congressional District and for 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA.
The report finds that 12.2 percent of households in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA reported food hardship in 2008-2009. But, once again, the numbers are dramatically higher for households with children – 17.7 percent of households with children say that they had difficulty affording enough food.
The FRAC report analyzes survey data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The ability to provide such localized data and such up-to-date data comes from Gallup’s partnership with Healthways, interviewing 1,000 households per day almost every day since January 2, 2008 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project. Through December 2009, more than 650,000 people have been asked a series of questions on a range of topics including emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment and access to basic services. Specific to this report, more than 530,000 people were asked whether there were times over the preceding year that they did not have enough money to buy food they or their family needed.
The Gallup survey question on food hardship is very similar to one posed by the Census Bureau and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its official measure of food insecurity, but because of the large sample size Gallup provides a closer, more localized and more recent look at food hardship. Official government data on food insecurity has a nearly one-year time lag and does not go below the state level.
“The data in this report show that food hardship – running out of money to buy the food that families need – is truly a national problem. It is a national problem in the sense that the rate for the nation is so high,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “And it is a national problem in the sense that rates are high in virtually every state, Metropolitan Statistical Area, and Congressional District.”
These new numbers are especially relevant as Congress looks at jobs legislation and other strategies to mitigate the damage of the recession, and reauthorizes child nutrition legislation this year. D.C. Hunger Solutions has joined FRAC in calling for improvements in a range of federal nutrition programs, including SNAP/ Food Stamps and child nutrition programs, and for more efforts to boost the economy, create more well-paying jobs and reduce unemployment.
“President Obama has set a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015,” said Ashbrook. “As we can see with these new data, the struggle with hunger is a serious problem here in Washington, D.C. for children and adults. Not a minute can be wasted between now and 2015 if we’re to reach that goal. All corners of government, the private sector and nonprofits must work together in order to implement long-term strategies that will battle our nation’s hunger crisis.”
The full report is available at www.frac.org.