One in 10 American households struggled to feed their families last year, with more than 5 million families missing meals and cutting portions due to poverty, new government research reveals.
In the richest country in the world, children in 274,000 American households went hungry, skipped meals or did not eat for entire days because there was not enough money to buy food.
2.3m are unable to afford adequate nutritional food at times during 2021, according to the annual food insecurity report by the USDA.
The climate breakdown and Russia’s war in Ukraine are pushing up food prices, and the cost of groceries in July was up 13.1% compared to last year, with the price of cereal, bread and dairy products rising even higher.
One in four Americans rely on federal nutrition assistance such as food stamps and free school lunches. The rates are higher among Indigenous, Black and Latino households. Households are now also under more pressure as states roll back pandemic-linked financial support such as free school meals for every child, child tax credits and many states now stopping expanded food stamp benefits.
Realtime data from the US Census survey “suggest that food hardship has been steadily rising in families with children this year”, said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.
Every month, millions of Americans are forced to choose between paying for rent, healthcare, bills, childcare and groceries, because they are not paid a living wage. Food insecurity and unequal access to grocery stores play a major role in a range of public health epidemics, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay, as unhealthy processed foods with high levels of fat and sugar are often cheaper and more accessible than healthier options.
Food insecurity has never fallen below 10% since 2000.