Surprising Statistics About Food Insecurity In The Richest Nation On Earth
The United States is, by virtually every metric, the richest country in the world. The ability to feed the hungry is almost the first requirement of a civilized society, and yet, despite an overall abundance of food, tens of millions of Americans live in danger of malnutrition, and up to 85 percent of Americans do not get the recommended daily allowance of essential vitamins, according to the Guardian.
For a nation with the world’s highest GDP and that is home to many of the world’s richest individuals and corporations, the United States falls far short of ensuring every citizen has enough food to maintain basic health. According to Feeding America, which publishes the Hunger and Poverty Fact Sheet, over 49 million Americans live in food-insecure households.
The struggle to get enough food is not evenly distributed across the population. While 14.5 percent of Americans live in poverty, the percentage rises to 19.9 percent for children. Children are hit especially hard by food insecurity because a chronic lack of nutrients in childhood negatively influences growth and development throughout life. It may also play a role in poor school performance, according to World Bank.
One reason for the excessive rate of child malnutrition may be the disproportionate impact of having children in poverty. While only 12 percent of childless households reported some level of food insecurity in 2013, the rate runs as high as 20 percent among households with children. The highest rate of food insecurity, at 34 percent, is reported by households headed by single mothers, but the rate drops to 23 percent among single-father-led households.
Arkansas and Mississippi report the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation, at 21.2 and 21.1 percent, respectively. Higher-than-average rates are consistently reported throughout the South.
Food shortages are usually associated with economic difficulties in the developing world, but the United States is not immune. Tens of millions of Americans cannot count on reliable access to food. Visit The Hunger Site for ideas on how you can help with these issues.