Going Hungry: Many African Americans Struggling to Put Food on the Table

September 10, 2012  |  

Image: Photodisc

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report showing that 25.1 percent of black homes were food insecure in 2011. Food insecurity comes about when there isn’t sufficient access to food because of a lack of resources, including money.

Overall, 85.1 percent of the U.S. population was food secure while 14.9 percent of the population have trouble providing adequate levels of food for themselves and their families. So the black population exceeds the level of food insecurity for the general population by about 10 percentage points.

The percentage of food insecure only went up by a small amount (from 14.1 percent in 2011), so the USDA says it’s not “statistically significant.” Nearly six percent of the population had very low food security, meaning they went without meals for a few days at some point over the course of seven months during the year.

“For households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households, rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average,” the report says. Hispanic households experienced food insecurity at a rate of 26.2 percent.

With a quarter of black houses experiencing problems simply keeping enough food on the table, the problem is critical. According to reporting from the Washington Informer, if not for government food programs the number would be even higher, a very scary thought.

“African-Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by unemployment and poverty, and there is a strong correlation to food insecurity rates,” Rev. Derrick Boykin told the paper. Another source, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, called it a “moral obligation” for Congress to keep these food programs away from budget cuts.

The Senate has already passed a plan in June that would lower the funding for food stamps. The use of food stamps reached a record level that month; 46.7 million people were using food stamps. Spending on food stamp programs also reached a record $75.7 billion. As far as we’re concerned, this is money well spent.

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