On one of the largest holidays of the year in America, Thanksgiving, when most Americans are so full after eating such an enormous meal and a lot of the leftovers go to waste, it is hard to image that millions of people in this country go hungry.
In fact, 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger in the U.S.
As I enter the kitchen and begin to start preparing the Thanksgiving meal for our family of four, I reflect on this tragic fact. That despite the grocery stores filled with more food than you can ever imagine possible and the tables around the country awash with food, that so many Americans simply don’t have enough to eat nor have enough healthy food to eat. Ironically enough, our nation struggles too with some of the highest obesity rates in the world: Per the CDC, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of US adults in 2015~2016.
It is so ironic in a nation of plenty that so many have so little and so little healthy to eat. In fact, billions of pounds of food is wasted every single year. Yet the problem of hunger is complex.
So, Who Goes Hungry?
While researching on Feeding America, a leading non-profit in America fighting to combat hunger, I found these somewhat surprising statistics that delve into the often hidden facts of who in America is going hungry.
It’s a simple fact: A child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. But in America, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal. For the more than 12 million kids in the U.S. facing hunger, getting the energy they need to learn and grow can be a daily challenge.
Nearly 5 million senior citizens currently face hunger in our country. After a lifetime of hard work, 63% of the households with older adults (50+) that Feeding America serves find themselves facing an impossible choice — to buy groceries or medical care. And as the baby-boom generation ages, the number of seniors facing hunger is only expected to increase.
Many rural and farm communities — the very places where crops are grown to feed the world — face hunger. It seems impossible, but in lands of plenty, hunger pains can be the sharpest.
African American households face hunger at a rate more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic households. And getting enough to eat is a consistent struggle for 1 in 4 African American children.
Latino families face hunger at staggering rates in America. One in six Latino households in the United States struggles with hunger. For Latino children, the disparity is even more severe. Nearly 1 in 4 Latino children is at risk of hunger, compared to 12% of White, non-Hispanic children.
40 million Americans struggle with hunger, the same as the number of people officially living in poverty. Based on annual income, 72% of the households the Feeding America network served in 2014 lived at or below the federal poverty level with a median annual household income of $9,175.
However daunting it may seem there is a is a silver lining. There are many amazing organizations out there trying to fight hunger and make a difference.
How Feeding America is Making a Difference
Feeding America is a hunger relief organization with the mission to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. With over 35 years of experience in fighting hunger, Feeding America is making an enormous impact with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs strong throughout the United States.
Through Feeding America’s Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs, they are reaching over 46 million people each year. Along with the food banks and pantries, Feeding America provides the following programs: Mobile Pantry Program, Disaster Food Assistance, Summer Child Nutrition Programs, Backpack Program, School Pantry Program, Kids Cafe, Senior Grocery Program and SNAP Outreach.
You can help too by donating to Feeding America’s many programs, volunteering or becoming an advocate. To learn more, visit www.feeedingamerica.org.