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New USDA numbers show values of food nutrition programs

Many American households were unable to consistently provide food for their families last year

The following is a message from Share Our Strength

According to new numbers released this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.5 percent - or 17.2 million American households - were unable to consistently put food on their tables for their families last year. This year’s rate was virtually unchanged from last year, continuing the prevalence of the highest food insecurity numbers seen in the 16 years that the government has been keeping track.

The USDA report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2010, also shows that 16.2 million children, one out of every five, lived in households that struggled to afford food, skipped meals or ate inadequate diets due to a lack of money and resources.

Executive Director of Share Our Strength Bill Shore responded to the report, saying, “Today’s disturbing numbers cry out for immediate and concerted action to protect the most vulnerable in our society: our children.”

Essential food nutrition programs are credited with keeping these numbers from increasing last year, even as the economy continued to struggle. In 2010, 59 percent of food-insecure households reported that they had participated in one of the top three federal food and nutrition assistance programs (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children or the National School Meals Program) in the previous month.

“Effective core child nutrition programs like school breakfast, SNAP, and after-school meals are in place to protect children from hunger and its consequences. These programs become even more important in an economy as troubled as ours, but they only reach a fraction of eligible children,” said Shore, who pointed out that the programs are funded by the federal government but administered at the state and local level. “These USDA numbers are a wake-up call for the nation’s governors, who have the power to ensure that more children receive the food they need to grow up healthy, do well in school, and keep America competitive.”

Through its No Kid Hungry Campaign, Share Our Strength builds public-private partnerships at the state level to connect more children with food and nutrition programs, invest in local community organizations that fight hunger, and teach families how to cook healthy meals on tight budgets.

Read the Executive Summary to the USDA report.

Read Bill Shore’s post on the link between helping American children access food and the health of the U.S. economy at Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry blog.

For more on Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger or to schedule an interview with Executive Director Bill Shore, please contact Christy Felling at (202)649-4340 or [email protected].

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