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Food and Nutrition

According to a September, 1999 USDA report, at any given time from 1996-1998 an average of about 9.7 percent of American households (about 31 million people) did not have assured access to enough food to meet their basic needs. According to the report, about 3.5 percent of American households experienced recurrent and involuntary hunger at some point during any 12 month period.

According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), an anti-hunger group, about 29 percent of U.S. children under the age of twelve (about 13.6 million children) are either hungry (4 million children) or at risk of hunger (another 9.6 million) during any given day. According to the USDA, consequences of chronic hunger in children include infant mortality, poor cognitive development, and increased risk of disease.

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service runs the nation's major federal anti-hunger programs, including:

  • Food Stamps: This program serves nearly 18 million people at an annual cost of about $21 billion (FY 2000). Participation in the food stamp program has dropped significantly in recent years, down nearly 7 million since 1996. Some anti-hunger activists are concerned that the sharp decline has outdistanced the drop in poverty during that same time period, arguing that federal agencies are turning away people in need. Conservatives counter that the decline merely represents a return to levels experienced earlier in the decade.
  • Child Nutrition Programs: This program provides funding to feed about 27 million children in school lunch and breakfast programs, child care centers, and after-school programs at an annual cost of about $9.6 billion (FY 2000), over half of which (about $5.6 billion) is for the federal school lunch program.
  • WIC: Formally known as the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), this program provides food assistance to over 7 million people at an annual cost of about $4.2 billion (FY 2000).


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Site Listings

  • Bread for the World: World hunger statistics and articles from the largest grassroots advocacy network on domestic and international hunger issues. Bread for the World is a Christian voice for ending world hunger in the new century. How to help...
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Food Assistance: Reports on domestic food programs from the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • Center on Hunger and Poverty (Tufts University): Expert nutrition information from the world famous Tufts University, global leader in nutrition science and nutrition policy. Educational opportunities for graduate students, mid-career professionals, health care providers and the general public.
  • End Hunger Network
  • Food Research and Action Center (FRAC): The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national organization working to improve public policies in order to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. FRAC is a nonprofit and nonpartisan research, policy, public education and advocacy center that serves as the hub of an anti-hunger network of hundreds of state and local organizations across the country.
  • Food Stamp Caseloads Are Rising: This paper reviews recent increases in the food stamp caseload (1/15/2002).
  • Second Harvest: America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, distributing surplus food to more than 23 million hungry Americans each year.

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