Facts About Hunger in Washington, DC | Capital Area Food Bank
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Hunger In Our Region

Food is life. But not everyone in our community has the food they need. Together, we can change that—and it starts with understanding some important truths about hunger. Learn more about hunger in our region by reading CAFB's annual Hunger Reports

More than a million people in our region are food insecure.

Nearly ⅓ of them are children.

Who needs help?

Hunger doesn’t discriminate. There are people in every neighborhood struggling to put food on the table. In our region alone, more than 1.2 million men, women, and children of every age, race, and religion live with the difficult realities of food insecurity.

Making an invisible problem more visible

Hunger is hard to see. But our Hunger Heat Map reveals the breadth of the problem—and lets us know where help is most needed.

Explore the Heat Map

The numbers are large. The stories are personal.

What does a region with more than 1.2 million people experiencing food insecurity look like? It looks like the place we call home. People who are struggling with hunger live in the apartments and houses we pass by, ride the Metro beside us, and work in the businesses we frequent.

One of the hard facts about hunger is that it’s much more widespread than many people realize. For instance, only five percent of the people we serve are homeless. The rest live in homes all around the region. In every county in our region, at least one in five people faced challenges getting enough to eat in 2021, and in some counties, as many as half of residents experienced food insecurity.

Food insecurity is difficult to escape, because when budgets are tight, food is often the first thing that’s cut. That’s why single parents holding down two and three jobs to make ends meet, workers living paycheck to paycheck who experience a sudden job loss, college students working their way through school, and seniors on fixed incomes are all among the people who have to make the choice between food and expenses like housing and medicine.

How hunger hurts

We don’t know what children face before they come to the center or when they leave the center, but we do know that while they are here they are able to get a nutritious meal. The fact that Capital Area Food Bank provides them with these fresh fruits and vegetables is great because they may not receive them otherwise.

Dawn Folkes
Poorer health for children
Food insecure children are more likely to experience stomach aches, headaches, colds, ear infections, and fatigue. They are sick more often, recover more slowly, and are more likely to be hospitalized.
Poorer health for seniors
Food insecure seniors are 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack, 52 percent more likely to develop asthma, and 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.
Health trade-offs
Seventy percent of households report “purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy” food as a common coping strategy to hunger.

Stories from our community

Good, healthy food can transform lives

    Denise Clyburn
    I want to help families with growing kids bridge that monthly gap between what they have and what they need... This food helps do that.
    Read Story
    Service Recipient
    The program is a lifesaver. I know that while I’m at work, they’re still learning and getting their meals, and having fun.
    Read Story
Epiphaney and Humberto face a variety of challenges - including finding stable housing, steady work and improving their health. The Capital Area Food Bank and its network of partners, including Central Union Mission, are here to help.
Browse All Stories

What we’re doing to help

We source and help provide more than 50 million meals every year

Hunger and food insecurity in our region is a big problem. Together with our community, we’re also working towards big solutions.

What We Do Our Impact

Ready to make a difference for your neighbors?

Hunger is a problem we can solve. And there’s a role for all of us to play. We depend on the generosity of people like you to provide food across our region. Every unrestricted dollar you donate can help us provide 2 meals.