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CONTACT: Jen Adach
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New Data Show One in Eight Washington D.C. Households Struggling with Hunger
Washington, D.C – September 7, 2011 – In Washington, D.C., 13 percent of households struggled with hunger on average during the 2008-2010 period, according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Compared to many other states which saw significant growth in food insecurity from 2005-2007 to 2008-2010, D.C.’s change was not considered to be statistically significant by USDA. Thirty-five states experienced statistically significant changes in their food insecurity rates. For example, Maryland saw its food insecurity rate grow from 8.6 percent in 2005-2007 to 12.5 percent in 2008-2010, and West Virginia saw its rate grow from 10.7 percent to 14.1 percent over the same time period.
D.C. Hunger Solutions Director Alex Ashbrook credits D.C.’s substantial participation increases in SNAP and the child nutrition programs with helping to stabilize hunger rates in the District – even during the recession. Recognizing the increased need and demand for nutrition programs, leaders across the District have made it a priority to make these programs easier to access, including:
- Swift implementation of the new Afterschool Meal Program, which provides children with healthy meals during afterschool activities.
- Provisions in the Healthy Schools Act, passed last year by the D.C. City Council, that make it easier for children to participate in school meals.
- Wide-reaching SNAP outreach efforts to make sure that newly-eligible households receive this benefit.
Among the 13 percent of people in District households considered to be food insecure during the 2008-2010 period, 4.5percent were living in households that were considered to have “very low food security.” People that fall into this USDA category had more severe problems experiencing hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis for both adults and children. Again this change was not considered to be statistically significant.
“Hunger is a problem that can be solved, and the federal nutrition programs are a key part of that solution. We can see that D.C.’s work to connect families to these programs is helping many in this terrible economy, and D.C. Hunger Solutions has been proud to partner with leaders across the city to make these programs widely available,” said Ashbrook. “But there’s still more work to be done to end hunger in Washington, D.C. The city can do an even better job in fully utilizing the federal nutrition programs and expanding access to healthy and affordable food in underserved communities. We urge city leaders to continue making the fight against hunger a priority for the District of Columbia.”
“Finally, we remind Members of Congress – who live and work in this city – to protect the federal nutrition programs from deficit-cutting measures. Weakening these programs would cause irreparable harm to low-income people in the District and across the nation,” continued Ashbrook.
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About the USDA Report
Since 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture, using data from surveys conducted annually by the Census Bureau, has released estimates of the number of people in households that are food insecure. Food insecure households are those that are not able to afford an adequate diet at all times in the past 12 months. The report also includes food insecurity rates for each state, but for states it uses three-year averages to give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing food insecurity. Experts agree that the Census/USDA measure of food insecurity is a conservative one, with the result that only households experiencing substantial food insecurity are so classified.