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5 Surprising Facts about Hunger in America

Hunger is not a simple problem. On the Treasure Coast, more than 83,000 will worry about where their next meal will come from. They are food-insecure, struggling to provide or eat enough each day.

But hunger means more than missing a meal. It often means having to choose between buying groceries or paying rent. And the effects can be devastating – from poor health and malnourishment to impaired child development and overall poor well-being. So – hunger is a health, education, and financial stability problem.

food-in·se·cure adjective lack of consistent access to a sufficient quality of affordable, nutritious food for an active, healthy life. (i.e., there might not be dinner every night this week because payday is Friday).

Here are five facts about hunger that my surprise you:

  1. One in 8 families on the Treasure Coast are hungry. That’s 12.7% of all Treasure Coast households, including the ALICE population, who earn about $25,000 a year for a family of four. These are our neighbors, men and women of all ages and ages, who go to work every day but still don’t have enough to pay for basic necessities such as groceries, rent, transportation, childcare, and health care.
  2. Some 20% of children on the Treasure Coast are food insecure. Not having healthy, nutritious food at every meal will affect their development. Hunger can negatively impact kids for the rest of their lives. Without proper nutrition, a child can’t grow strong and healthy.
  3. 63% of seniors in America who visit food banks say they have to choose between food and medical care. For many senior citizens living on a fixed or limited income, their food budget is overwhelmed by payments for rent and utilities and the cost of medications. Without a consistent source of staple groceries, many seniors struggle with food insecurity and malnutrition.
  4. Food-insecure people are more prone to obesity. Not having a grocery store close by (and limited transportation) forces people to shop at places that sell mostly packaged and prepared foods – higher in calories but lower in nutrition.
  5. 84% of households receiving food assistance report buying the cheapest food – instead of healthy food – to provide enough to eat. The USDA estimates that currently, the average cost of food for a family of three is $146/week for a “thrifty” food plan and $191/week for a low-cost food plan.

Why are so many people hungry? For many, unexpected life events, health crises, underemployment, and now the pandemic, can contribute to why they don’t have enough food every day.

So what can you do to fight hunger? Here are 3 easy ways to become part of the solution:

Get informed – Check out videos, infographics, and stories from United Way, Feeding America, and the Treasure Coast Food Bank. Or share this link with your friends and family on social media.

Get involved: Donate your time, talents, or money. Connect with United Way to make a donation or visit VolunteerIndianRiver.org to get started.

Get help: If you or someone you know is worried about having enough food to eat, call 211 (or click here) to find available resources in the Treasure Coast.

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