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Six things you might not know about hunger in the U.S. 

In August, Cargill’s partner Feeding America published a landmark study. Find out some surprising facts about the face of hunger.

September 10, 2014

Feeding America (FA) is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., operating a network of more than 200 food banks that provide food for one in seven Americans.

Every four years, FA commissions a study to better understand the people it serves. The 2014 Hunger in America report surveyed more than 60,000 FA clients.

What they said paints a vivid picture of hunger in the U.S. Here are six facts that may surprise you.

1. Budgets are tight.

It may seem obvious that people seeking food assistance are trying to get by on relatively low incomes, but just how low those incomes are might shock you. The median monthly household income for FA clients is $927. Two-thirds of all households said they had to choose between food and transportation costs in the last year, and 57 percent said they had to choose between food and paying for housing in that timeframe.

2. Food competes with medical care.

In the study, 66 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. One in three households served by FA includes a member with diabetes and 58 percent have someone with high blood pressure. Both these rates are above the national average.

3. And it competes with education.

Of FA’s 46 million clients, 31 percent report having to choose between paying for food and paying for education expenses in the past 12 months. Overall, 10 percent of Feeding America’s clients are students.

4. Hunger is colorblind.

Looking across the spectrum of FA’s client base, 43 percent are white, 26 percent are black, and 20 percent are Hispanic.

5. Military families suffer high rates of hunger.

One in four current military households in the U.S. is served by the FA network. As many as 620,000 households seeking food assistance from FA have at least one member who is serving in the military. Additionally, 20 percent of households served by the FA network include either a current serviceperson or a veteran.

6. Working people are going hungry.

More than half (54 percent) of the households surveyed by FA have a family member who’s currently employed. Median annual household income among all FA households is $9,175.

How you can help

Cargill’s three-year, $6 million partnership with FA includes a special focus on food safety education. This year, Cargill also is joining the Invest An Acre program, which enables farmers to donate an acre’s worth of crops when they deliver their harvest to the local elevator. The proceeds from those donations are then reinvested back into the farmers’ local communities to help fight hunger.

You can chip in, too. September is Hunger Action Month, a great time to volunteer at a local food bank.

Outside the U.S.? No problem. World Food Day is just around the corner on Oct. 16, which means it’s not too early to start planning how you’ll join the ranks of volunteers around the world who will work to reduce hunger that day.