Hunger Here at HomeBy
In February, 2011 a report came out describing food hardship in places across the United States. The Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the 7th worst place for hunger in the nation. This year the news got worse, with the Asheville MSA listed in 3rd.
These are the facts that led to the creation of the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, which seeks to formulate policy solutions to the problems of food security. That group is working diligently, and you can expect to see a lot of proposals come forward in the near future.
Excerpts from the report after the jump:
2011 was another year of difficult economic struggles for American households, and the most recent food hardship data demonstrate that. When asked by the Gallup organization, “Have there been times in the last twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
In short, economic struggles largely persisted, and the struggles of the millions of households at the bottom of America’s increasingly unequal income distribution to put adequate food on the table got worse.
Only 12% of voters, roughly one in eight, thought the federal government is spending too much money on hunger, while 78% of voters say the federal government should be spending more money on solving hunger or should continue to spend the same amount. When voters are told that Congress is considering cutting billions of dollars to reduce government spending, by 77% to 15% they say cutting food assistance programs like the food stamp program is the wrong way to reduce government spending.
Food hardship rates are too high in every corner of the nation, and the national 2011 rate was higher than the 2010 rate, even though economic growth was picking up. It is crucial that the nation rebuild its economy, strengthen employment and wages, and develop public supports that will dramatically decrease these food hardship numbers and do so quickly. Essential steps include: a growing economy that provides full-time jobs at decent wages, shares prosperity and pulls households out of hunger and poverty; strengthened income supports (e.g., unemployment insurance, TANF, refundable tax credits) that help struggling workers and families; and strengthened – not reduced, as some in Congress are proposing – federal nutrition programs (SNAP/Food Stamps, school meals, WIC, summer, afterschool, and child care food) that reach more households – seniors, children, and working-age adults alike – in need and do so with more robust benefits.
For FRAC’s seven-point strategy specifically aimed at reaching the President’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015, see www.frac.org/pdf/endingchildhunger_2015paper.pdf. As a nation, even in difficult times, we have the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone, regardless of age or family configuration. The cost of not doing so – in terms of damage to health, education, early childhood development and productivity – is just too high. The moral cost of not doing so is even higher.
Results are based on telephone (landline or cellular) interviews in 2008 through 2011 with randomly sampled adults, age 18 or older in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Total sample sizes for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 355,334, 353,849, 352,840 and 353,492 respectively. Margins of error were calculated using 90% confidence intervals.