Report Exposes Broad Food Hardship; Underscores Need To Protect And Improve SNAP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, 202-986-2200 x 3974; firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore – February 28, 2013 – 16.2 percent of respondents – or nearly one in six people – in Maryland reported in 2012 not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some points during the prior twelve months, according to a new report (pdf) released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
This report provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every region, every state, every Congressional District, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including the Baltimore-Towson MSA in Maryland. The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 18.2 percent in 2012. Among states, Mississippi had the highest food hardship rate (24.6 percent) and North Dakota had the lowest (10.9 percent).
For Maryland, it found that:
- 16.2 percent in the state in 2012 said they were unable to afford enough food.
- For the Baltimore-Towson MSA, the food hardship rate for 2011-2012 was 15.9 percent.
- Regionally, Maryland’s rate was higher than the regional average. For the Mid-Atlantic region, 15.9 percent say they were unable to afford enough food.
“It is unacceptable that so many people across Maryland are struggling and cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Cathy Demeroto, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS). “These numbers show us that we must make our nation’s safety net stronger, not weaker. We can’t afford to leave these vulnerable people behind.”
FRAC’s food hardship report analyzed data collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008. FRAC analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
“Persistent unemployment, stagnant wages, and inadequate public programs are contributing to the nation’s high food hardship rate, yet Congress continues to propose cuts that would further fray our nation’s nutrition safety net,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Congress needs to fix the problems rather than doubling down on harming the most vulnerable Americans.”
MDHS will be in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America. With more than 700 attendees, the conference will culminate on Tuesday (March 5, 2013) with a day of action on Capitol Hill where attendees will share these data with their lawmakers. MDHS is joining FRAC in urging Members of Congress to strengthen the federal nutrition programs so benefits are sufficient to address hunger and so they reach more households.
One key weakness of SNAP is that its benefit levels are too low to allow people to purchase enough food. A report recently released by the Institute of Medicine underscored the current inadequacy of SNAP benefit levels in ensuring that recipient’s nutritional needs are met, and outlined flaws in how SNAP benefits are currently calculated.
“SNAP benefits must be improved, and not endure further cuts as some in Congress have proposed. A majority of Americans oppose such cuts,” said Demeroto. “The conversation needs to change in Washington, and Congress needs to focus on building – not weakening – our nation’s safety net. The first step is passing a Farm Bill this year that protects and strengthens SNAP.”
The full report is available at www.frac.org.
About This Report
This report is the latest in the Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) series of analyses of survey data on food hardship collected by Gallup as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It provides the most up-to-date examination of the struggle that very large numbers of American households are having affording enough food.