Just the facts
HUNGER IN THE U.S. | WORLD POVERTY & HUNGER
- There are 821 million hungry people in the world—one in every nine people1.*
- An estimated sixty percent of the world’s hungry are women or girls2.
- Every year, 3.1 million children under five die due to malnutrition.3
* This is the number reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Critics claim that the FAO data neglects larger issues of poverty, inequality and rising food prices. It is almost certain that the number of people facing hunger worldwide is even higher.
HUNGER IN AMERICA
- 40 million Americans are food insecure,* meaning they are often forced to skip meals, eat less at meals, buy cheap non-nutritious food and/or feed their children but not themselves.4
- Over 12 million children in the US are food insecure.5
- There are 15 million U.S. households suffering from food insecurity – 11.8 percent of all U.S households.6
- 5.8 million U.S. households suffer from severe food insecurity, which means the people who live in them are often hungry.7
- 2.9 million households with children are food insecure at some time each year.8
- 40.6 million Americans currently rely on SNAP (Supplemental Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) to meet their food needs.9
- 92% of SNAP households have incomes below the poverty line. Additionally, 82% of all SNAP benefits go to the most vulnerable households – those with children, elderly or disabled people.10
- Among SNAP households with children, more than half of adults work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent are employed the prior or subsequent year. SNAP helps Americans return to work, and increasingly, it helps those who already work, but do not receive a sufficient wage to feed themselves or their families.11
- Many families suffering from hunger and poverty live in areas where fresh, unprocessed, healthy food is not available or is expensive, while the food they do have access to is nutritionally deficient.12
* The USDA defines ‘food insecurity’ as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods.” Characteristics of households with food insecurity include skipping or reducing the size of meals, not being able to afford a balanced meal, going whole days without eating, and going without food despite feeling hungry. Households with very low food security are characterized as having food intake reduced and eating patterns disrupted, because the household lacks money and other resources for food. For these households, 96 percent report skipping and reducing meals because of not having enough money for food.
Poverty, a root cause of hunger, is also often indicated by marginal income
and limited access to healthcare, education, clothing and shelter.
- There are 39.7 million people living in poverty in the US, including 12.8 million children.13 That’s 1 in 6 American children.
- 2018 federal guidelines set the poverty rate at $25,100 for a family of four, but depending on a family’s specific city and state of residence, the actual minimum amount required to raise a family could be two or three times that.15
- The vast majority of people who grow, pick and process our food live in poverty and cannot afford to buy adequate healthy food. 86% of jobs in the food system offer very low wages at the poverty level and below the poverty level.16
- Worldwide, 736 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, live on the equivalent of less than $1.90 per day.17
For more information on WHyHunger's vision for a world free from hunger, visit Our Work.
- Food and Agriculture Organization
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United Nations Children’s Fund
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- United States Census Bureau
- Economic Policy Institute
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- World Bank Group
- 1 Food and Agriculture Organization, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2018, 2018. Accessed 10/11/18. http://www.fao.org/3/I9553EN/i9553en.pdf
- 2 Food and Agriculture Organization, Gender Equality and Food Security: Women’s Empowerment as a Tool against Hunger, 2013. Accessed 10/11/18. http://www.fao.org/wairdocs/ar259e/ar259e.pdf
- 3 United Nations Children’s Fund, Malnutrition, 2018. Accessed 10/11/18. https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/
- 4 United States Department of Agriculture, Household Food Security in the United States in 2017, 2018. Accessed 10/11/18. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/90023/err-256.pdf?v=0
- 5 Ibid.
- 6 Ibid.
- 7 Ibid.
- 8 Ibid.
- 9 United States Department of Agriculture, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 2018. Accessed 10/11/18. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/pd/34SNAPmonthly.pdf
- 10 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Policy Basics: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), 2018. Accessed 10/11/2018. https://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-the-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
- 11 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Most Working-Age SNAP Participants Work, But Often in Unstable Jobs, 2018. Accessed 10/16/2018. https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/3-15-18fa.pdf
- 12 United States Department of Agriculture. Nutritional Quality of Foods Acquired by Americans: Findings From USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey, 2018. Accessed 10/16/2018. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/87531/eib-188.pdf?v=0
- 13 United States Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017, 2018 Accessed 10/16/2018. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.pdf
- 14 Department of Health and Human Services. Poverty Guidelines, 2018. Accessed 10/16/2018. https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines
- 15 Economic Policy Institute. What Families Need to Get By, 2015. Accessed 10/16/2018. https://www.epi.org/files/2015/epi-family-budget-calculator-2015.pdf
- 16 Food Chain Workers Alliance and Solidarity Research Cooperative. No Piece of the Pie: U.S. Food Workers In 2016, 2016. Accessed 10/16/2018. http://foodchainworkers.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/FCWA_NoPieceOfThePie_P.pdf
- 17 World Bank Group. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018. 2018. Accessed 10/16/2018. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/30418/9781464813306.pdf