Need for Grace Café

Hunger In America

In many ways, America is the land of plenty. But for one in seven people nationwide, hunger is a very real struggle. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods. However, the reality is much different. Right now, millions of Americans are at risk of hunger. They are often hard-working adults, children, and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and may be forced to go without food.

The USDA measures and defines food insecurity as: “a lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.”

The Facts:

  • The US ranks WORST in the International Monetary Fund’s Advanced Economy Countries – of which there are 53 – for food insecurity.
  • 42.2 million Americans do not have enough to eat despite living in a nation with more than enough food. 13.1 million of them are children.
  • In 2014, 5.4 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure.
  • 54% of food insecure Americans are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • One out of every two children in America will be on food assistance at some point before they are 18 years old.

Hunger & Obesity Are Inextricably Linked:

  • 795 million people on this planet are undernourished. 2.1 billion are overweight.
  • Hunger and obesity are interrelated and are both signs of insufficient funds to buy foods required to stay healthy.
  • The relative price of fruit and vegetables has increased 91% since the obesity epidemic first began in the early 1980's. In contrast, the relative price of processed foods has decreased by 20%.
  • If you have a limited budget, and you have two, three, or four mouths to feed, you are going to spend it on the cheapest calorie you can get.
  • Since 1995, the USDA has spent a quarter of a trillion dollars on farm subsidies. And those subsidies mostly support the production of corn and soybeans that are the primary ingredients in processed, high fat, high-sugar foods; not fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Hunger & Health in kentucky

According to the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, Feeding America’s 2014 statistics:

  • Kentucky ranks 4th highest in the nation for poverty.
  • Kentucky ranks 17th in household food insecurity with a rate of 17.2%.
  • Kentucky ranks 28th in child food insecurity with a rate of 22.4%

According to Kentucky’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps 2013 Report:

  • Adult obesity is 31%. That is up from 30.4% in 2012 – a third of the Commonwealth’s population.
  • 25% of Kentucky’s children are living in poverty.
  • For the first time since 1995, the number of children living in poverty in Kentucky exceeds 1 in 4 persons younger than 18.
  • 42% of children live in single parent households

Moreover, Kentucky is one of the sickest states in America, ranking among the worst in the nation for almost every indicator of health -- cancer deaths, smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many others. Kentucky residents as a whole fare poorly on almost every health measure - second worst in the nation for cancer deaths, fifth worst for cardiovascular deaths, seventh worst for obesity. All of these diseases are preventable and for many of them that prevention begins with FOOD. Kentucky's poor health threatens the lives of residents, the productivity of the population and the economy of the state - while hitting every resident in the pocketbook through taxes and insurance premiums.

Over the next two decades, Americans will spend $550 billion in obesity-related health problems such as Type II diabetes and heart disease. Poverty, of course, is the issue. It is tied to everything from nutrition to health habits to the medical care people receive. Kentucky has 43 of the nation's 340 persistently poor rural counties. Only Mississippi, which ranks neck-and-neck with Kentucky on an index of health measures, has more. 

Hunger in Boyle County, KY (population 29,150)

  • 16.1% of residents and 20.3% of children are considered food insecure.
  • 51% of residents fall below SNAP’s threshold of 130% below the poverty rate.
  • 18% residents fall between 130% and 185% below the poverty rate.
  • 30% of adults are considered obese.
  • 25% of children live in poverty.
  • 35% of children live in single parent households.
  • 19.2% of residents receive SNAP benefits.
  • 77% of children are likely receive SNAP benefits.

The Impact of Hunger on Our Children

If a child, in his or her first 1,000 days of life from conception to 3-years-old does not have adequate nutrition, the damage is irreversible. Their brains and bodies will be underdeveloped. Hunger affects cognitive brain development and the ability to get along with others. Children who experience chronic hunger are immune-compromised and constantly getting sick.

Almost 40 percent of the total calories consumed by 2- to 18-year-old children are in the form of empty calories, meaning solid fat and added sugars. Next to Mississippi, Kentucky youth drink the most soft drinks in the country — up to 89 gallons per person.

Estimates show that one in three children who were born in the year 2000 will develop Type II diabetes at one point in their lives, in large part because of the food choices they make. According to a Kentucky pediatrician, “We are seeing lots of heart indicators, like high-blood pressure, high lipids, and cardiac changes in kids that are overweight. And we’re seeing a lot of other issues like liver disease and kids with orthopedic problems.”

This will be the first generation to live sicker and die younger than their parent’s generation. This has not only a huge impact on economies, but also the earning capacity of these children is cut in half.