More than 530,700 people in the Washington metro region, 12 percent of the area’s population, turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families, according to a new study released today by the Capital Area Food Bank and Feeding America. Hunger in America 2014 is the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking food assistance in the United States ever conducted.
The study documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by the CAFB – their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally-representative study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. Military and adult students receiving charitable food assistance.
Highlights of the study reveal that many clients served by the food bank face diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure; are forced to make difficult choices between buying food and other necessities; and have U.S. Military status.
Key statistics from the report include:
Widespread Use of Food Assistance Across the Washington Metro Area
- The Capital Area Food Bank serves 530,733 people annually, that’s 12 percent of the region’s population.
- 66 percent of CAFB food assistance partners saw an increase in clients compared to previous year.
- 21.2 percent of individuals in the Washington metro region who serve or formerly served in the military have received assistance from the Capital Area Food Bank and its partners.
Clients Struggling with Health Issues
- 70 percent of households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options.
- 62 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
- 22 percent of households include a member with diabetes.
- 48 percent households have a member with high blood pressure.
Making Tough Choices and Trade-Offs to Keep Food on the Table
Following are the choices client households reported making in the past 12 months:
- 65 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities.
- 67 percent report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation.
- 62 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care.
- 61 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing (i.e. rent, mortgage).
More results from the Hunger in America 2014 study can be found here.