Among some of the key findings in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are the following:

  • Increase in Demand: An estimated 52 percent of partner food programs in the state reported an increase in the volume of clients coming to the program in the past 12 months.
  • Running Out of Food: Among partner food programs reporting turning away clients for any reason in the past 12 months, an estimated 22 percent did so because they ran out of food.
  • Educational Status: About 29 percent of adult clients served in the state have completed at least some college, a two-year degree, a four-year degree, or higher.
  • Employment Status: An estimated 49 percent of client households report at least one employed person at some point in the past year.
  • Military Service: An estimated 21 percent of client households have a member that has ever served in the military; 4 percent of client households have a member currently serving.
  • Raising Grandchildren: An estimated 16 percent of respondents in Pennsylvania are responsible for grandchildren in the household.

Key statistics from the Pennsylvania Hunger in America 2014 report include:

Widespread use of food assistance

  • Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks serve 2,075,800 people annually, including 532,692 children and 246,392 seniors (aged 65+).
  • Weekly, 227,500 unique clients in this state are served by Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks.
  • Among all clients, 23 percent are black, 11 percent are Latino, and 57 percent are white.
  • 10 percent of adult clients are students.
  • 21 percent of households include someone who is a veteran or who has ever served in the military.
  • 47 percent of charitable agencies served by Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks employ no paid staff/are operated exclusively by volunteers.

Clients struggle with health issues

  • 77 percent of households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options.
  • 65 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
  • 56 percent households have a member with high blood pressure.32 percent of households include a member with diabetes.

Making tough choices and trade-offs to keep food on the table

The following are the choices client households reported making in the past 12 months:

  • 67 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities.
  • 32 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 65 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care.
  • 30 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 62 percent report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation.
  • 30 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 55 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing.
  • 26 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 31 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for education expenses.
  • 15 percent are making the choice every month.

More than half (57 percent) of households reported using three or more coping strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months. The frequency of these strategies among all households include:

  • 77 percent report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food.
  • 58 percent report eating food past the expiration date.
  • 54 percent report receiving help from friends or family.
  • 40 percent report watering down food or drinks.
  • 31 percent report pawning or selling personal property.
  • 27 percent report growing food in a garden.

Low wages, underemployment and unemployment driving need

  • 14 percent of respondents have faced foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.
  • Among all households served by agencies and programs of Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks, 49 percent have at least one member who has been employed in the past year.
  • Among all households with an employed person, the person with the longest employment duration is more likely to be employed part-time (87 percent) than full-time (13 percent).

 

Hunger in America 2014 was conducted using rigorous academic research standards and was peer reviewed by a technical advisory team including researchers from American University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Urban Institute. Nationally, confidential responses were collected on electronic tablets by 6,000 trained volunteer data collectors. The study was funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation.