Data Show Widespread Struggle In Every Congressional District, Underscoring Need To Protect Nutrition Safety Net
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Adach, 202.986.2200 x3018, firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore, Md. – August 11, 2011 – More than 20 percent of households with children in Maryland reported in 2009-2010 not having enough money to buy food that they needed for themselves or their family at times during the prior twelve months, according to a new analysis of food hardship data (pdf) released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
FRAC’s Food Hardship in America series analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has interviewed more than one million households since January 2008. FRAC has 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?”
The analysis released today examines food hardship rates – the inability to afford enough food – for households with and without children. Data are available for every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including the Baltimore-Towson area. Findings for childhood food hardship in Maryland include:
- In 2009-2010, 20.8 percent of households with children in Maryland said they were unable to afford enough food. The food hardship rate for households without children was 13.2 percent.
- For the Baltimore-Towson MSA, the food hardship rate for households with children was 21.6 percent in 2009-2010, and 14 percent for households without children.
- Five of Maryland’s eight congressional districts had more than one in six households with children reporting food hardship in 2008-2010.
“The food hardship rate for households without children is far too high, but we can see that the situation for households with children is far worse,” said Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto. “These new data reaffirm what we’re seeing in our communities – that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these economic times.”
For families that struggle to put food on the table, the federal nutrition programs are a lifeline – but participation in these programs falls short in Maryland. Increasing the number of people reached by the federal nutrition programs is one of the main goals of Maryland Hunger Solutions and of The Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, of which Maryland Hunger Solutions is a core partner. Higher participation in the federal nutrition programs would mean less hunger, healthier children, more federal dollars flowing into the state, more economic growth, and more jobs.
This past year, the Partnership has focused on increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program and in the Summer Nutrition Programs. Already, efforts are paying off with an increase in the number of sites offering summer meals in 2011 and an increase in the number of students eating breakfast at school in 2011 with the First Class Breakfast Program.
“We’ve seen a number of successes in getting more low-income children to participate in nutrition programs, but Maryland still has a long way to go – especially when we see just how many people in our state are struggling to afford enough food,” said Demeroto. “These data demonstrate, once again, that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker, and Congress must ensure that all deficit reduction negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people.”
When Congress returns to Washington after its August recess, it will enter the next phase of consideration under the recently passed debt ceiling deal. Maryland Hunger Solutions joins FRAC in urging Congress to recognize the absolute necessity of protecting low-income programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and school meals from cuts.
“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress should know already — that his or her district has tens of thousands of households struggling with hunger or food insecurity,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Weakening any of these key safety net programs would make hunger and malnutrition more common and deeper. It could increase fiscal deficits, further weaken the economy, and increase human suffering in their districts.”
The full analysis is available on FRAC’s website.