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Key Conclusions from Recent Studies

Advocacy List

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Map the Meal Gap 
Feeding America (March 2011)

A new measure of hunger showing, for the first time, food insecurity rates at the county and Congressional district levels

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Service Area:

323,010 people are food insecure (13.2% of the total population), missing a total of 53,965,983 meals each year. 

43% of those who are food insecure are not income eligible for government-funded food and nutrition assistance.

Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report 2011
Food Research and Action Center.

  • Since July 2008, participation in summer food and nutrition programs has decreased by 3.1%, yet the number of children receiving food assistance through school lunches has been consistently increasing.
  • Budget cuts have led many school districts to be left with no other option but to reduce their summer programs.
  • During the summer of 2010 in Pennsylvania, only 23.7 children participated in summer nutrition programs for every 100 that participated in the National School Lunch Program during the 2009-2010 school year.

Household Food Security in the United States, 2010
United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (September 2011).

This study uses a series of 18 questions to identify food insecurity and very low food insecurity.

  • 12.5% of Pennsylvania households were food insecure - meaning their access to adequate food was limited by lack of money and other resources.
  • 5.0% of Pennsylvania households were affected by very low food security - a severe range of food insecurity.
  • This year's report shows the highest number of food insecure Americans since the studies began in 1995. his study uses a series of 18 questions to identify food insecurity and very low food insecurity.
  • 11.8% (4.98 million) of Pennsylvania households were food insecure - meaning their access to adequate food was limited by lack of money and other resources.
  • 4.4% of Pennsylvania households were affected by very low food security - a severe range of food insecurity in which the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted due to limited resources.
  • The percent of food insecure households in the U.S. in the past 2 years are the highest that have ever been recorded since the food security studies began in 1995.

Food Hardship in America - 2010
Food Research and Action Center (August 2011)

*This study uses 1 question to determine food hardship: "Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?"

  • In 2009-2010, 13.3% of Pennsylvania households without children experienced food hardship.
  • In 2009-2010, 21.6% of Pennsylvania households with children experienced food hardship.

The State of America's Children

Children's Defense Fund (August 2011)

  • 206,248 Pennsylvania children under the age of 18 (7.6%) lived in extreme poverty in 2009.
  • Approximately 551,000 Pennsylvania children received SNAP (food stamp) benefits each month in 2009.
  • Only 16.9% of Pennsylvania children who receive free or reduced-price lunches participate in the Summer Food Service Program.

Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005-2007
Dr. John Cook, Boston University School of Medicine (May 2009).

  • 15.8% of Pennsylvania’s children were food insecure.
  • On average, 439,153 of Pennsylvania’s children, including 119,976 under the age of 5, were food insecure during the years 2005-2007.

The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger: Estimated Annual Burden to the United States
Dr. J Larry Brown, Harvard School of Public Health, (June 2007)

  • Hunger and food insecurity costs Pennsylvania approximately $3.2 billion per year. 
  • This cost burden in Pennsylvania includes almost $2.4 billion for medical and mental health care due to increases in physical and mental illnesses; $330 million from reduced educational achievement and lowered worker productivity; and $517 million in expenses for charitable activities, all directly associated with hunger and food insecurity.
  • The study concluded that, “In their adult years, children so affected will face greater likelihood of limited employability, lessened workforce productivity, and poorer judgment and job performance.”

            Health-related impacts to food-deprived people:

    1. 2.9 times more likely to have poorer overall health
    2. 3.5 times more likely to be depressed
    3. 7 times more likely to have a psychosocial dysfunction
    4. 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalized and require longer in-patient stays
    5. 1.93 times more likely to need mental health services       

            Education-related impacts to food insecure children:

    1. 2.07 times more likely to require special education
    2. 1.6 times more likely to miss days of school
    3. 1.44 times more likely to repeat a grade
    4. Nearly twice as likely to be suspended from school

Food Stamps as Medicine: A New Perspective on Children’s Health
Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program (February 2007)

“By reducing food insecurity, food stamps can decrease a child’s risk of:

  • Hospitalization
  • Poor health
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Deficits in cognitive development
  • Behavioral and emotional problems"

The Causes, Consequences, and Future of Senior Hunger in America
Gundersen, Haist and Ziliak. (2007)

“After controlling for other risk factors for poor health we find that seniors experiencing some form of food insecurity are:

  • Significantly more likely to have lower intakes of energy and major vitamins. This holds across all the nutrient intake measures considered. The effects are very strong. Across all the measures, the effect of being marginally food insecure is over twice as large (and generally much larger) than a move in income from one-to-two times the poverty line.
  • Significantly more likely to be in poor or fair health. In comparisons of excellent or very good health versus good, fair, or poor health and comparisons of excellent, very good, or good health versus fair or poor health, we find a strong effect of marginal food insecurity. Being marginally food insecure is similar to not having graduated from high school.
  • More likely to have limitations in activities of daily living (ADL). Marginally food insecure are much more likely than fully food secure seniors to have ADL limitations. The effects are again strong – being marginally food insecure is roughly equivalent to being 14 years older.”