What is Hunger

MAMAP5In many ways, America is the land of plenty and most U.S. households have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living – they are food secure. But a growing number of Americans experience hunger or food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Hunger is a serious health problem for more than 50 million Americans. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population – including more than 1 in 5 children.

Research by Feeding America suggests that food from pantries is not just being used to meet temporary food needs – instead, for the majority of people seeking food assistance, pantries are now a part of a household’s long term strategy to supplement monthly shortfalls in food. This means that food banks and food pantries have evolved from providing temporary or emergency assistance to more ongoing support for individuals and families including senior citizens living on fixed incomes and adults who are unemployed or working more than one low-wage job to try and make ends meet.

Hunger in Worcester County

  • According to the U.S. Census, 82,951 people in Worcester County (10.3 percent of the population) live at or below the poverty level. The federal poverty level for a family of four in 2012 was $23,050.
  • Hunger and food insecurity also afflict individuals and families living above the poverty level with income insufficient to meet their basic human need for food.
  • 99,796 people in Worcester County (12 percent of the population) received food assistance from the Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB) and its network of food pantries in 2012. (Source: WCFB Network Data Collection System for calendar year 2012)
  • Since the recession in 2008, the hunger rate for households in Massachusetts has increased 40 percent; from 8.3 percent to 11.4 percent. These households include over 700,000 adults and children.

For More Information

  • Massachusetts Food Insecurity by County 2012 [Website]
  • Project Bread’s 2013 Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts [PDF]
  • Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple [Website]
  • Hunger In America [Website]