One in Seven Americans Rely on Foodbanks, Report Finds

One in seven Americans rely on food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families, a report from Feeding America, the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of food assistance to low-income Americans, finds.

Based on surveys of Feeding America's partner agencies and more than 60,000 clients, the report, Hunger in America 2014 (176 pages, PDF), found that over 46 million people in the United States, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors, are served by the 58,000 food pantries and meal service programs supported by Feeding America's 200 foodbanks. Among the organization's clients, 43 percent are white, 26 percent are African-American, and 20 percent are Latino. The report, believed to be the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking food assistance ever conducted in the U.S., also found that 620,000 households which include at least one active U.S. service member receive food assistance from the Feeding America network, while 20 percent of client households include at least one veteran.

According to the report, survey respondents had a median annual income of $9,175. And while 54 percent of all households surveyed and 71 percent of those with children included at least one member who has been employed in the past year, in more than half (57 percent) of those families, the longest-employed person held a part-time job. In addition, the report found that many surveyed households included a member with high blood pressure (58 percent) or diabetes (33 percent), and two-thirds of all respondents (66 percent) reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.

"The results from this historic study are truly alarming," said Feeding America CEO Bob Aiken. "Many of the people we serve struggle not only to get enough to eat, but also to keep a roof over their heads, the lights on in their homes, and to cover their healthcare and medicine costs. Hunger in America 2014 highlights the enormous hardships faced by the millions of low-income families who rely on the Feeding America network for help."