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One in Three Households with Children in Washington, D.C. Report Inability to Afford Enough Food
D.C.’s Very High Food Hardship Rate for Households with Children Underscores Need to Protect Nutrition Safety Net
WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 11, 2011 – More than 37 percent of households with children in Washington, D.C. reported in 2009-2010 not having enough money to buy food that they needed for themselves or their family at times during the prior twelve months, according to a new analysis of food hardship data (pdf) released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Among states, D.C. has the highest food hardship rate among households with children.
FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has interviewed more than one million households since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
The analysis released today examines food hardship rates – the inability to afford enough food – for households with and without children. Data are available for every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Findings for Washington, D.C. and the metro area include:
- There is a dramatic difference in food hardship rates between households with and without children. In 2009-2010, 37.4 percent of households with children in the District of Columbia said they were unable to afford enough food. The food hardship rate for households without children drops to 14.9 percent.
- For the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA, 9.4 percent of households without children reported food hardship in 2009-2010. But, once again, the numbers were dramatically higher for households with children – 19.4 percent of households with children said that they had difficulty affording enough food.
“The fact that one in three households with children – and one in five in the metro area as a whole –struggle to afford enough food in the nation’s capital should shock people, and should underscore the fact that we cannot weaken programs that benefit low-income families,” said D.C. Hunger Solutions Director Alex Ashbrook. “We urge Members of Congress – who live and work in this city – to ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people.”
When Congress returns to Washington after its August recess, it will enter the next phase of consideration under the recently passed debt ceiling deal. D.C. Hunger Solutions joins FRAC in urging Congress to recognize the absolute necessity of protecting low-income programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and school meals from cuts.
“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress should know already -- that his or her district has tens of thousands of households struggling with hunger or food insecurity,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Weakening any of these key safety net programs would make hunger and malnutrition more common and deeper. It could increase fiscal deficits, further weaken the economy, and increase human suffering in the district.”
The full analysis is available on FRAC’s website.