“People don't walk around with a sign that says ‘I'm hungry’ letting you know they weren't able to eat because they can't afford it,” said Brian Barks, President & CEO of the Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, NE. “No matter the size of your community, you probably know someone who is hungry.”
This trend in national food insecurity levels is tied directly to national poverty levels. According to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 40.6 million people in the United States were living in poverty.
In fact, according to Ross Fraser, Director of Media Relations with Feeding America, of the 41 million Americans who live in “food insecure” households, almost 13 million are children and nearly 5 million are seniors. “There are two drivers we see with hunger,” Fraser said. “One is poverty, and the other is a cataclysmic life event like losing your job, a major illness or getting injured so you can no longer work.”
In addition, 84% of people needing food assistance say they buy the cheapest food available, and 69% of the same group has been forced to choose between paying for utilities and paying for food, according to Feeding America.
“The problem of hunger in our country isn't going away,” said Patrick L. Dees, President & CEO. “This initiative lets us continue our history of giving back and helping others, while engaging our members in battling this nationwide problem on a local level in their communities. It's the kind of thing our members do best.”