Monday, November 16, 2009

More Than 1 in 10 Households in PA Are "Food Insecure"

As families continue to deal with the impact of the recession, a new report from the Department of Agriculture showed that in 2008, 49 million Americans were "food insecure" in the United States, the highest number since tracking began 14 years ago. 13 million more people joined the ranks of the food insecure in the previous year. In Pennsylvania, 4.9 million households were food insecure on average between 2006 and 2008, or about 11.2 percent of all households. These numbers represent an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the average between 2003-2005 (and is statistically significant with 90 confidence, for those of you who care about that information).

Many startling numbers come from this report, including some that are below. But of those numbers, one is critical for those who are food insecure: 30.5 percent of food insecure households earned below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (which is the income eligibility level for food stamps (SNAP)) but did not receive SNAP benefits in the past 12 months.

Even if you work, receive unemployment benefits, own a car, or are single, you may still qualify for food stamps, depending on how much you earn and the size of your household. There are many ways you can see if you qualify:
Below are more statistics from the new report:
  • While 2/3rds of "food insecure" families nationally "have enough to eat" through reliance on food stamps, food pantries, and soup kitchens, 1/3rd skip meals or eat smaller portions in order to get by (those with "very low food security").
  • Of the households with very low food security, 506,000 contain children, an increase of 183,000 households in the past year.
  • In Pennsylvania, 4.2 percent of households had very low food security.

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