The FAMCare Blog

A Closer Look

Posted by GVT Admin on Aug 30, 2023 10:30:00 AM

food insecurities in America Whenever this blog shines a spotlight on how many Americans go hungry every day, our readers respond with surprise and skepticism. Most Americans live in a cultural environment that looks away from poverty, and even the impoverished themselves tend to hide their unfortunate circumstances. In America, it’s noble to inhabit the working class but undignified to struggle feeding your family.  Although most of our readers are in the social services profession, even they seem unaware of the depth and breadth of our marginalized population where hunger is still a prominent issue. They consider ads with a picture of a sad-looking child on billboards, the internet, and television saying, "No school means no school lunch. Donate now [to] Feeding America," a cry for help from a select few.

The Scope of American Hunger

On average, 41.2 million people in 21.6 million households received monthly SNAP benefits in the 2022 fiscal year, which ran from October 2021 through September 2022. That translates to 12.5% of the total U.S. population. Today, SNAP, often referred to as food stamps, is the most prevalent of the 16 food assistance programs provided by the federal government. Some of the 15 other federal programs provide support to children, some to young families, and some to older adults.

  • During fiscal year 2017, the US spent $70 billion on SNAP, down from $79.5 billion in 2013.
  • School breakfast and lunch programs, that serve low-income children on a sliding scale of 185% of the poverty level and under, are common across the country, as are the lunches offered in older adult centers and from Meals on Wheels.
  • The Women, Infants, and Children program, to which social workers working with families routinely make referrals, provides pregnant and nursing mothers and their children up to age 5 with incomes 185% of the poverty level food and nutritional education.
  • Meals on Wheels serves homebound older adults with incomes 185% of the poverty level and under.
  • Other targeted programs, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, provide a box of stable foods to older adults. Less well-known programs such as the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provide commodities for after-school and day care programs and for distribution through food pantries and on-site meal programs also known as soup kitchens.

Beyond Federal Assistance

Most of our readers report that they are more familiar with informal food assistance programs—food banks and food pantries—than the formal federally based programs. Food pantries may be the only universal food assistance available in the United States. The only requirement is income eligibility; there are no work requirements. Each pantry may set its own criteria as far as income and range of services. Many have a service area such as municipal boundaries or school district boundaries. In some instances, recipients self-report income.

  • Nearly one in four (23.9%) adults who are parents or guardians of children under 19 living with them reported that their household was food insecure.
  • The number of people receiving food assistance from a food pantry or onsite meal center (often known as a soup kitchen)—46 million according to Feeding America—is nearly equal to those receiving SNAP.
  • Adolescents, college students, and older adults all experience food insecurity.
  • Teens will conceal hunger and, though they overwhelmingly prefer employment, faced with acute food insecurity and no employment prospects, they may resort to criminal behavior.
  • Hunger continues into college. The number of campus pantries has grown to 400 nationwide in response to the number of hungry college students.

A Closer Look

In every modern, complex industrial society poverty is a fact of life. Most Americans are not born financially secure and must find a life’s work that will support them and their family. This ongoing endeavor distracts even well-meaning people from carefully assessing how their neighbor is getting on. Unless their neighbors are living on the street in plain view, it is the rare person who suspects that his or her neighbor may be food insecure. One social worker put it like this, “I deal with food insecurity every day with many of my clients. It’s not like I’m unaware of the problem. But frankly, it has never occurred to me to walk across the street to see if the widow Baker is hungry in her dusky little cottage. I need to take a closer look.”


Additional Article's on This Topic: 

Zero Hunger/Zero Waste 

Economic Boom a Bust for Many 

The World's First Food Bank 


Topics: Homeless & Food Pantry, social issues

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