Hidden Epidemic: Single Page
Imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Unthinkable, right?
But in the United States, the wealthiest nation on the planet:
- 49 million Americans are at risk for hunger
- 17 million children live in households where food has run short over the past year
Here in Philadelphia:
- More than 1 in 4 residents are at risk for hunger, double the rates reported at national and state levels.
The Face of Hunger
Most of us are familiar with photographs of hunger in developing countries—images of wide-eyed children with distended bellies and withered limbs. That's not what hunger looks like in America.
Hunger is often hidden in the U.S. It's a father skipping a meal so he can pay the rent. It's a mother going to bed without dinner so her son has enough to eat. It's a grandmother eating one meal a day so she can afford medication.
In America, hunger can even look like obesity. Families stretch their dollars by buying cheaper, high-calorie foods with little nutritional value. Low-income mothers often cut back on their own meals so their kids don't go hungry. Such chronic ups and downs in food intake frequently lead to obesity among these women.
Additionally, many low-income neighborhoods, especially those in the inner city, don't have supermarkets. That forces residents to rely on corner stores, which are much more likely to carry chips and soda than fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Impact of Hunger
Because nutritious food is a basic need, hunger affects every aspect of a person's life. People struggling with hunger are also much more likely to suffer from health problems and perform poorly in school and at work.
Hungry people are:
- 30% more likely to be hospitalized
- Twice as likely to need mental health services
Hungry children are:
- 50% more likely to repeat a grade
- Twice as likely to require special education
- Medical and mental health care due to increases in illness and psychosocial dysfunction
- Lost educational achievement and worker productivity
- Costs for charities that work to relieve hunger
The Fight Against Hunger
There is no single solution to hunger in the Philadelphia region. That is why it is imperative that government, businesses, nonprofits and the public work together to eradicate hunger in our community.
As this fight continues, there are two main lines of defense against hunger:
SNAP (Food Stamps) and Federal Nutrition Programs
More than 475,000 Philadelphia residents now receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP helps low-income people buy groceries, which frees up money to cover other needs, like rent, heat and medicine. However, there are still nearly 180,000 Philadelphia residents who qualify for SNAP who do not participate in the program.
The federal government also funds other hunger-relief programs, including WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), the National School Lunch Program; the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program for Children and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens
There are an estimated 500 food pantries and soup kitchens in Philadelphia. In fiscal year 2014, food pantries helped more than 500,000 people in Philadelphia; one-third of those helped were children. Many food pantries receive food through Pennsylvania’s State Food Purchase Program.
Every voice matters in this fight against hunger. Your support can make a difference.
DONATE: The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger builds capacity in food pantries and soup kitchens so they can serve more people in need; helps eligible Philadelphia residents obtain food stamps, and advocates for sound and sustainable policies on the local, state and federal levels. Your financial support ensures that we can continue to fight hunger in our region.
VOLUNTEER: Help more families put food on their tables by volunteering as a food stamp advocate or lending a hand at a food pantry or soup kitchen.
ADVOCATE: Urge your legislators to take responsible action to prevent hunger in our city, our state and across the nation.