A landmark study released today by Second Harvest North Florida and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, reports that more than 170,700 people receive emergency food each year through Second Harvest and the agencies it serves in north Florida.*
Hunger in America 2010 is the first research study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downturn and an increased need for emergency food assistance. The number of children and adults in need of food as a result of experiencing food insecurity has significantly increased. Image
In the 18 counties served by Second Harvest North Florida, more than 100,000 people are experiencing very low food security—or hunger. An estimated 31,400 people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by Second Harvest North Florida.
An estimated 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by one of Feeding America’s more than 200 food banks, including Second Harvest North Florida. This is a 27 percent increase over numbers reported in Hunger in America 2006, which reported that 4.5 million people were served each week. More than 37 million people—including 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors—are receiving emergency food each year through the Feeding America network. The numbers represent a 46 percent increase since the last study was released in 2006.
“This report confirms with data what we have been seeing for the past 18 months at least,” Thomas Mantz, executive director for Second Harvest North Florida, said. “The most sobering facts relate to the increased numbers of children and working poor who need our help – of all children receiving food from us, 6 percent, or 10,242 of them are five years old or younger.”
“Contrary to image we usually have of a hungry person, one in every four households receiving food from Second Harvest have at least one employed adult,” according to Mantz. “About one-third of the people we serve are having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel, paying for food and paying for rent or mortgage, or paying for food and paying for transportation – all nearly impossible choices to make.”
“We are coming out of a two-year run during which we have distributed the most food ever in our history – 7.6 million pounds in 2008 and an incredible 10.3 million pounds in 2009,” Mantz noted. But even so, 61 percent of the pantries, 67 percent of the kitchens and 33 percent of the shelters receiving at least part of their food from us have had to turn away clients at least once due to lack of food resources. The need is greater than the resources at this point.”
“It is morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic necessities,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “These are choices that no one should have to make, but particularly households with children. Insufficient nutrition has adverse effects on the physical, behavioral and mental health, and academic performance of children. It is critical that we ensure that no child goes to bed hungry in America as they truly are our engine of economic growth and future vitality.”
The methodology incorporated into the 2010 study includes data collected from February through June, 2009. Second Harvest North Florida conducted face-to-face interviews with 194 people seeking emergency food at food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding programs, as well as interviews with more than 201 agencies that provide food assistance.
Nationally, Feeding America collected quantitative and qualitative feedback from 61,000 face-to-face in-depth interviews with people seeking emergency food assistance and more than 37,000 agency surveys, making this study the largest, most-comprehensive ever conducted on domestic hunger.
Among the key findings in the Second Harvest North Florida report:
· Nearly five percent of all served have completed college or higher; 33.4 percent have less than a high school education; 42 percent completed high school or have an equivalent degree but no higher.
· Nearly 45 percent of all served are white; 49 percent are black; the remaining six percent of those served are mainly Latino or Hispanic.
· Twelve percent of all adults served have had or currently hold managerial or professional jobs.
· Among all households served, only one-quarter were homeless.
· Most households have access to a place where they can prepare a meal (84 percent) and access to a working telephone (82 percent), but only half of those served have access to a working car, making transportation a major issue in their ability to take care of their families.
· 85 percent of the households served are food insecure; i.e., they have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to get acceptable foods in a socially acceptable way. An even higher percentage of households with children younger than age 18, 92 percent, are food insecure.
· Among all households served, 88 percent responded that, in the last 12 months, the food they bought just didn’t last, and 85 percent responded that they didn’t have money to get more, and that they couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals.
· Adults in 39.4 percent of the households had to cut the size of meals or skip meals because there was not enough money for food almost every month of the previous 12 months.
· Second Harvest North Florida is a major source of food for the agencies it serves. 76% of the food the pantries distribute, 49 percent of the food the kitchens serve and 56 percent of the food the shelters serve are provided by Second Harvest.
· If Second Harvest didn’t exist, 91 percent of the pantries, 70 percent of the kitchens and 67 percent of the shelters say that the loss would have a significant or devastating impact on their operations.
A summary of the findings is available at www.WeNourishHope.org. The full national report is available on Feeding America's web site at Hunger in America 2010.
*Emergency food programs are defined to include food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters serving short-term residents. Many other types of providers served by Second Harvest North Florida are, for the most part, not described in this study, including such programs as congregate meals for seniors, day care facilities and after-school programs.
|SHNF Hunger Study 2010.pdf||1.46 MB|