National Hunger Statistics

Poverty affects our most basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. An impoverished individual or family must always juggle their limited resources in attempting to meet these needs. Food expenditures are among the most flexible items in household budgets which are frequently squeezed when income dips or unemployment strikes. Nationally, the minimal cost to feed a family of four can run $145 to $287 a week. According to the USDA, more than one in seven American households – 49 million individuals, including 12 million children – struggles to have enough to eat. Hunger also increases the risk of illness and infection. Those who are chronically hungry are also more likely to be obese, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.


Average weekly cost
to feed a family of four.

12 million

Children struggle
to have enough to eat.


American households
face food insecurity.


The USDA also states that from 2007 to 2011, the years just before and after the Great Recession, the percentage of U.S. households with food-insecure children (lacking consistent access to adequate food) increased from 8.3 to 10% because households with unemployed adults and part-time workers comprised a larger portion of the total in the post-recessionary period than in the pre-recessionary period. Due to the nation’s higher unemployment, the USDA Food Stamp Program (also known as the Supplemental Food Assistance Program – SNAP) has more people enrolled than at any time in its 40-year history (one in seven Americans). Hundreds of thousands of children suffer pangs of hunger as they await their first meal of the day – a free breakfast and/or lunch served at school. More Americans are facing food insecurity for the first time in their lives. A Tufts University study demonstrates that even mild malnutrition can affect a child’s ability to develop appropriate cognitive skills.