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Americans Going Hungry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service reported Monday that more than 50 million Americans, including more than 17 million children, are food insecure - meaning they lack consistent access to a nutritious, well-balanced diet. The findings are based on data collected by the government in December, 2009.

In Illinois, 12.2 percent of households were food insecure at least some time from 2007 to 2009, including 4.4 percent with very low food security - up from 11.1 and 4.1 percent, respectively, in 2006-2008.

The report, Household Food Insecurity in the United States, is a sobering snapshot of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. The report shows that child hunger remains critically high. Nearly one in four children was at risk of hunger in 2009.

Anti-hunger advocates continue to seek passage of a new child nutrition bill when Congress returns to session this week. The bill will strengthen access to healthy meals, including weekend, evening and summer meals. The Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in August, and the bill now awaits action by the House of Representatives.

Food insecurity increased only slightly in 2009, compared to a sharp increase in the report issued one year ago, which reflected the first full year of the recession. Advocates credit greater enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) and the increased SNAP benefit levels provided in the economic recovery package, as well as lower food inflation, with protecting families from hunger in 2009.

The sharp rise in food insecurity rates during the recession mirror the findings in the local report of Hunger in America 2010, which showed that the number of people seeking emergency food assistance each year through the Greater Chicago Food Depository had increased 36 percent since 2006.

The full report can be found here.

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See also:

The New Normal: The Greater Chicago Food Depository now serves one in eight people in Cook County, according to the 2010 Hunger in America study. The Food Depository distributed a record 66 million pounds of food in 2009-2010.

Growing the Field: The Food Depository unveiled its five-year Strategic Plan in July 2010. The plan emphasizes the distribution of low-sodium, transfat-free and whole grain items and redoubles our commitment to the distribution of fresh produce. Other focuses include: developing community-based responses, expanding SNAP outreach and implementing measurement scorecards.

Holiday food: During November and December, we plan 41 Producemobile and 35 Mobile Pantry distributions. Items include:

* 25,420 turkeys
* 14,688 hams
* 42,216 pounds cranberry sauce
* 34,632 pounds canned yams
* 27,630 pounds canned corn
* 18,320 pounds instant potatoes
* 10,958 pounds stuffing

Events:

* ABC 7 and Dominick's Holiday Food Drive (Nov. 5 - Jan. 2)

* One City, One Food Drive (Nov. 15 through Dec. 11)

* 86 Hunger (Spiaggia, Nov. 16; NAHA, Jan. 11; Custom House Tavern, Jan. 27; BOKA, Feb. 1; Heaven on Seven, Feb. 23)

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Twitter: @FoodDepository.

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About the Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community.

The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year.

Last year, the Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 135,000 meals every day.

The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger.

For more information, log onto www.chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on November 16, 2010


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