Report Exposes Broad Hunger And Provides First-Ever Food Hardship Data For Every State, The Top 100 Large Cities And Every Congressional District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jen Adach, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 986-2200 x3018
Kimberley Chin, Maryland Hunger Solutions, email@example.com, (410) 528-0021
Baltimore, MD – January 26, 2010 – More than 15 percent of households in Maryland reported in 2009 not having enough money to buy food that they needed at some points during the prior 12 months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), titled Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger – Data for the Nation, States, 100 MSAs, and Every Congressional District. For the first time, data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – is available for every state, every Congressional District and for 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including the Baltimore-Towson MSA.
For the Baltimore-Towson area, the food hardship rate for all households was 15.3 percent in 2008-2009. The average was higher for households with children, with 19 percent reporting food hardship. The findings were similar for the entire state of Maryland, with nearly 20 percent of households with children reporting that they had difficulty affording enough food.
“According to this report, nearly one in five Maryland households with children report food hardship, said Kimberley Chin, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “These findings increase urgency for more to be done, and more quickly, to help this state’s and this nation’s struggling families.”
Chin also pointed out that the data for Congressional Districts paint a detailed picture of hunger across the state. Seven out of the eight Congressional Districts in Maryland had more than one in ten households reporting food hardship in 2008-2009.
The FRAC report analyzes survey data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The ability to provide such localized data and such up-to-date data comes from Gallup’s partnership with Healthways, interviewing 1,000 households per day almost every day since January 2, 2008 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project. Through December 2009, more than 650,000 people have been asked a series of questions on a range of topics including emotional health, physical health, healthy behavior, work environment and access to basic services. Specific to this report, more than 530,000 people were asked whether there were times over the preceding year that they did not have enough money to buy food they or their family needed.
The Gallup survey question on food hardship is very similar to one posed by the Census Bureau and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its official measure of food insecurity, but because of sample size Gallup provides a closer, more localized and more recent look at food hardship. Official government data on food insecurity have a nearly one-year time lag and does not go below the state level.
“The data in this report show that food hardship – running out of money to buy the food that families need – is truly a national problem. It is a national problem in the sense that the rate for the nation is so high,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “And it is a national problem in the sense that rates are high in virtually every state, Metropolitan Statistical Area, and Congressional District, including those in Maryland.”
These new numbers are especially relevant as Congress looks at jobs legislation and other strategies to mitigate the damage of the recession, and reauthorizes child nutrition legislation this year. Maryland Hunger Solutions has joined FRAC in calling for improvements in a range of federal nutrition programs, including SNAP/ Food Stamps and child nutrition programs, and for more efforts to boost the economy, create more well-paying jobs and reduce unemployment.
“President Obama has set a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015,” said Chin. “As we can see with these new data, the struggle with hunger is a serious problem here in Maryland for both children and adults. Not a minute can be wasted between now and 2015 if we’re to reach the President’s goal. All corners of government, the private sector and nonprofits must work together in order to implement long-term strategies that will battle our nation’s hunger crisis.”
Chin also noted that these findings should guide the work of Maryland’s state effort to end child hunger. In November 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley announced an initiative intended to end childhood hunger in Maryland.
The full report is available at www.frac.org.
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Maryland Hunger Solutions, an anti-hunger and nutrition organization, is dedicated to ending hunger in Maryland by raising awareness of the problem among the public, media, and policymakers, and changing policy and practice to connect struggling families to the School Breakfast Program and other federal nutrition programs. Maryland Hunger Solutions is an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center.