Hunger and poverty affect far too many Americans. Here are the latest numbers from USDA’s Household Food Security in the United States in 2019.
The 2019 prevalence of food insecurity, at 10.5 percent, continued to decline from a high of
14.9 percent in 2011 and was significantly below the pre-recession level (2007) of 11.1 percent. In 2019, 89.5 percent of U.S. households were food secure. The remaining 10.5 percent (13.7 million households) were food insecure.
Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The decline from 2018 (11.1percent) was statistically significant.
In 2019, 4.1 percent of U.S. households (5.3 million households) had very low food security, not significantly different from 4.3 percent in 2018. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources.
Children were food insecure at times during 2019 in 6.5 percent of U.S. households with children (2.4 million households), not significantly different from 7.1 percent in 2018. These households with food insecurity among children were unable at times to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.
More than 37.2 million Americans lived in households that struggled against hunger in 2018. The 2018 numbers were a decline from 2017, with the rate declining from 40 million.
The number of individuals in households that faced the deepest struggles with hunger – “very low food security” – was 4.3 percent (5.6 million) of U.S. households had very low food security at some time during 2018. Essentially unchanged from 4.5 percent in 2017.
Children were food insecure at times during 2018 in 7.1 percent of U.S. households with children (2.7 million households), not significantly different from 7.7 percent in 2017. These households with food insecurity among children were unable at times to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.
Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average for the following groups: households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, including those with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line; all households with children and particularly households with children headed by single women or single men; women and men living alone; Black and Hispanic-headed households; and households in principal cities and non-metropolitan areas.
The prevalence of food insecurity varied considerably from State to State, ranging from 6.6 percent in New Hampshire to 15.7 percent in Mississippi in 2017-19. (Data for 3 years were combined to provide more reliable State-level statistics.)
Our Prayer for a Welcome Table
For your faithful advocacy and the opportunity to accompany you in that this year, we at LAMPa give thanks, and offer this prayer for all of our tables.
You bid us set the table Lord, and invite all to come.
Inspire us by your Spirit to set a table where all are
welcome and nourished, discover mercy,
find justice and share in the riches of your grace.
May our table be a place where we listen to one another,
where divisions are healed and where we treasure
the power of your grace.
May we and all the world be fed.
For all this we give you hearty thanks.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hunger Resources from Global Partners:
ELCA World Hunger Resources – Working with and through our congregations in the U.S., Lutheran churches around the world, and other partners, ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to reach communities in need. Hunger resources addressing a variety of topics are available. Examples include: seasonal study guides and materials (Advent and Lent); Vacation Bible School curriculum; videos; toolkits; hunger education resources and more.
A Just Society Supporting the Health of All Resource Series – Fact Sheet: Hunger is a Racial Equity Issue. An ELCA study series that places before us the intersection of racial equity with environment, global, health, housing, hunger and migration realities. It invites us to look at obstacles and equip ourselves to advocate for a just society supporting the health of all
The official report of the 11th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation held in Stuttgart, Germany in 2010 gathered under the theme Give Us Today Our Daily Bread. Learn more.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is a national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and under nutrition in the United States. Site includes state and regional hunger data.
Duke University’s World Food Policy podcasts -run about 20-25 minutes offering wide-ranging perspectives and knowledge from researchers, community leaders, policymakers, farmers and more. Podcasts feature topics across the food system spectrum such as food insecurity, obesity, agriculture, access and equity, food safety, food defense, and food policy issues.
- Feeding Pennsylvania is a partnership of Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks.
- Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger is specific to the southeastern part of PA but includes some statewide resources and information, including the State of Hunger in Pennsylvania report that looks at rates of hunger and participation in the nutrition programs across the state, with county-level profiles and fact sheets for each of the 67 counties.
- Just Harvest is specific to the southwestern part of PA, but includes statewide resources and information.
- Southwestern PA Food Security Partnership brings together public and private groups to create an action plan to increase food security in southwestern PA
- PA Legislative Hunger Caucus site includes the PA Blueprint to End Hunger and information on the Capitol Hunger Garden
Congregational Hunger Ministries:
- Starting a Food Ministry – There’s no single way to start or run a food pantry. Practice has shown that the most lasting programs are those designed and run by the people who use them, in response to actual community needs. Since each community is different, take time first to talk to people about what they need, and what kinds of programs they are looking for. Remember that hunger is a symptom of other challenges – lack of education, employment, opportunity or a result of the cost of housing, health care or other necessities. A hunger ministry could also be job training or counseling, tutoring, a health clinic or housing ministry, that helps neighbors move out of food insecurity.
- ELCA World Hunger offers hunger grants to help local hunger ministries get off the ground.
- Feeding America, the national network of food banks (central distribution points that provide food to pantries and other food programs, at very low cost) is a good resource. You can type in your zip code and find the food bank nearest you: they will tell you about specific policies, requirements, and issues in your area, and help you with all the logistics of setting up a pantry where you are. You can also find out who local pantries operate (monthly, weekly, if there are days or weeks not covered).
- The USDA Summer Meal Program website has applications for becoming a summer meal site and information on existing sites in your area.
- School Breakfast Fact Sheets by County
Decades of research shows that eating school breakfast has a multitude of benefits for children. Children from low-income households are more likely to experience hunger and food insecurity. School-based nutrition programs provide an important source of nutrition for children’s growth and development, as well as their academic success. Learn more about the School Breakfast Program in Pennsylvania (SBP).
- Setting up a food ministry? Visit other pantries and food programs in your community, and ask them about what works, what doesn’t , what they wish they could change. Green Light Food Pantries focus on providing fresh, local food to their service area. Additionally, speaking with local schools, senior centers, community outreach programs and other faith groups in your area can also help you get a bigger picture of local needs, resources and services.
- Combatting Hunger in Pennsylvania – Click here for a 2019 Issue Brief regarding Hunger in Pennsylvania and how you and members of your congregation can contact state legislators and seek their support for anti-hunger programs in the Commonwealth. Click here to find a legislative leave behind for state lawmakers encouraging them to support the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) in this year’s budget.
- Garden Safe, Garden Well is a project of the Indiana University’s Center for Public Health and was adapted with permission by the Presbyterian Hunger Program. A handy feature of this guide is the ability for anyone to add local urban agriculture organizations and resources on the last page by typing into the PDF and saving, thereby customizing it to your community, town or city. The guide is an accessible primer on soil testing, including a myth-busting section, and it covers basic techniques for urban gardening.
- Let’s Move offers a step-by-step guide which offers important information about how to safely grow your own fruits and vegetables with others in your community, including selecting a site, finding partners, identifying resources and designing your garden.
- The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a bi-national nonprofit membership organization of professionals, volunteers and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities.
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources community garden web page
- Penn State County Extension offices offer classes and resources and trained Master Gardeners who are available for community gardening efforts.
- Seedfolks is a short children’s novel written by Paul Fleischman. The story is told by a diverse cast of characters living on (or near) Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio, each from a different ethnic group. Chapter by chapter, each character describes the transformation of an empty lot into a vibrant community garden, and in doing so, they each experience their own transformations.