NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 28, 2006

America's Second Harvest, a national network of food banks and food rescue organizations, released its quadrennial "Hunger in America" survey on February 23, 2006, only a few months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual food insecurity and hunger study, says Kirk A. Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

According to the USDA's survey of over 60,000 households:

  • Only 3.7 percent of individuals in the United States experienced hunger during 2004, according to the USDA definition of hunger (involuntary hunger that results from not being able to afford enough food).
  • Only 0.7 percent of children were hungry in the United States.

According to America's Second Harvest study of over 52,000 clients:

  • About 4.5 million individuals received meals or packaged food in a given week in 2005, down substantially from 2001.
  • Although fewer people were served on a weekly basis, food pantries and other providers found that they were serving about the same number of people annually.

Accounting for the apparent discrepancy between the weekly and annual estimates is that more clients reported being new to the Second Harvest system in 2005 than in 2001. A higher turnover means fewer clients in a given week but more (unique or unduplicated) clients served over the course of a year.

The Second Harvest report provides a great deal of information on the role played by its network of food banks and food rescue organizations as part of the nation's social safety net, says Johnson. It also makes an important contribution to understanding the extent of hunger and food insecurity in America, and showcases the generosity of Americans in providing aid and assistance to the needy in their local communities.

Source: Kirk A. Johnson, "What the Latest Numbers on Hunger and Food Insecurity Really Say," Backgrounder #1922, the Heritage Foundation, March 21, 2006; and "Food Security in the United States: Measuring Household Food Security," U.S. Department of Agriculture, updated November 19, 2004.

For America's Second Harvest report: about_the_study/A2HNationalReport.pdf


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