Hunger in America May Be Declining

November 13, 2014|11:30 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

It took almost seven years, but the number of Americans who report that they did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their families in the last 12 months has fallen below the levels caused by the last recession. According to Gallup's Healthways Well-Being Index, 17.8 percent of U.S. adults reported they feared being able to purchase food in 2008. This number reached a peak at 18.9 percent in 2013, and fell to 17.2 percent in 2014.

In a National Public Radio report, Elaine Waxman, vice president of research and nutrition at Feeding America, a network of U.S. food banks, said the following: "I absolutely would describe it as a glimmer of hope. …I think it's some good news that we are beginning to see a little movement because we've been stuck at earlier recession levels for so long."

A number of factors likely contribute to the decline. One factor that made the reduction harder to achieve is that food prices increased through the first half of 2014. However, the number of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed has decreased. Another possibility is that the Affordable Care Act has helped people who were having to decide between purchasing food or healthcare. The fall of gas prices could also be a factor.

Not all the news is as positive, however. According to the study, blacks and Hispanics are almost twice as likely as whites to report that they may not have enough money for food, which highlights the continued disparity in the U.S. population.