Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Feeding America says 1 in 8 Americans used food banks in 2009

America's largest food relief group says that food bank usage is up 46 percent from 2005. According to Feeding America 1 in 8 Americans used food banks at some point last year, that translates to 37 million Americans. Feeding America is a network of over 200 US food banks.

From USA Today, writer Wendy Koch gives us more details from the study.

"This is a crisis," says Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America. "People need to understand that this is America, and we're seeing this kind of need." She says the report is her group's most comprehensive study on emergency food distribution.

It comes as a record number of Americans are receiving food stamps — 33.7 million last year — and as President Obama, who has set a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015, proposed in his budget Monday to add $1 billion annually to school-based food programs.

The Agriculture Department reported in November that 14.6% of households didn't have enough food at some time in 2008.

Feeding America based its report on 61,000 interviews with people seeking food aid and 37,000 surveys of food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and other programs affiliated with Feeding America food banks.

More than a third of those interviewed said they had to choose between food and other necessities, including rent, utilities and health care. The average monthly income of households seeking help, $940, is below the $1,214 federal poverty level for a two-person household.

"Our system is overburdened," Escarra says. She says companies, individuals and the federal government have increased donations, but food banks are still struggling to keep up with demand.

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