New data recentlyreleased by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that 25.1 percent of African-American households were food insecure in 2011. Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table and often don’t know where their next meal will come from. This figure is more than 10 percentage points higher than the overall U.S. food insecurity figure of 14.9 percent.
“African-Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by unemployment and poverty, and there is a strong correlation to food insecurity rates,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African-American leadership outreach. “It is unconscionable that so many in our community continue to suffer, though we know the figures could be far worse if it were not for government nutrition programs helping to keep hunger at bay.”
Federal nutrition programs like SNAP (The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and school meal programs have kept more Americans from going hungry. The U.S. food insecurity rate reached an all-time high in 2008—the highest on record since the USDA began recording in 1995. The figures remained at that level through 2011.
According to the report, households with children were almost twice as likely to experience food insecurity. African-American households with children, however, were hit harder than the U.S. population as a whole. While 20.6 percent of all households with children were food insecure, 29.2 percent of African-American households with children were food insecure.
“In the world’s wealthiest nation, it is deplorable that so many of our children are at risk of hunger,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Congress has a moral obligation to ensure that programs that support the most vulnerable in our society are protected from budget cuts.”
Federally funded safety net programs that helped keep millions of Americans from going hungry in 2011 are currently on the chopping block as Congress continues work on the 2012 farm bill reauthorization and deficit reduction.
For additional data on food insecurity, visit www.bread.org.