The largest study revealing the current face of hunger in the U.S., as well as current findings at the local level, Hunger in America 2014, was recently released by Feeding America™. Feeding South Florida™, the sole Feeding America food bank in South Florida and the largest food bank in the state, participated in the landmark study, and the findings unveil key information about the issue of hunger in South Florida.
Feeding South Florida serves 871,920 individuals in need of food assistance, 287,650 of whom are children and 150,000 are older adults, throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
The quadrennial study highlights the enormous hardships faced by the millions of low-income families who rely on the assistance of Feeding America and Feeding South Florida™. Many of the people Feeding America and Feeding South Florida serve struggle not only to get enough to eat, but also to keep a roof over their heads, the lights on in their homes, and to cover their health care and medicine costs.
“Hunger in America 2014 is the sixth and most comprehensive study undertaken by Feeding America,” said Paco Vélez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida. “Its startling findings about the area that Feeding South Florida serves illustrate the impact of hunger on many South Floridians, and what we as a community can do to change lives one meal at a time.”
Key findings from the Hunger in America 2014 for the individuals/households Feeding South Florida serves through its approximately 325 nonprofit partner agencies include the following:
The unduplicated client count (measuring the number of unique individuals or households who access food from the charitable food assistance network) indicates that 66,200 unique clients are served in a typical week, and 517,000 are served annually. An estimated 22,400 unique households are served in a typical week and 159,600 are served annually.
The duplicated client count (estimating the number of times individuals or households are reached through food distributions during a given time) indicates that clients are reached 97,900 times in a typical week and 5,104,000 times annually. Households are reached 37,900 times in a typical week and 1,977,700 times annually.
Fourteen percent of clients identify themselves as white, 62 percent as black or African American, and 16 percent as Hispanic or Latino. Among all clients, 29 percent are children under age 18, and 18 percent are seniors age 60 and older.
An estimated 81 percent of households are food insecure, and 19 percent are food secure.
An estimated 21 percent of client households have no income, 44 percent have annual incomes of $1 to $10,000, and 15 percent have annual incomes of $10,001 to $20,000. Taking into consideration household size, 75 percent of client households have incomes that fall at or below the federal poverty level.
An estimated 30 percent of households report at least one member with diabetes; 59 percent of households report at least one member with high blood pressure. Additionally, 41 percent of client households have no members with health insurance of any kind, and 61 percent of households chose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care at least once in the past 12 months.
An estimated 77 percent of all clients have attained a high school degree or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or more, and an estimated 23 percent of all clients have post-high school education (including license or certification, some college, or a four-year degree).
An estimated 68 percent of households reported that they had to choose between paying for food and utilities in the past 12 months, and 63 percent of households chose between paying for food and transportation in the past 12 months. An estimated 65 percent of households reported using multiple strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months, including eating food past its expiration date, growing food in a garden, pawning or selling personal property, and watering down food or drinks.
An estimated 92 percent of households reside in non-temporary housing, such as a house or apartment, and 8 percent of households reside in temporary housing, such as a shelter or mission, a motel or hotel, or on the street. Sixty-four percent of households chose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage at least once in the past 12 months. An estimated 26 percent of respondents have experienced a foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.
An estimated 65 percent of households have a household member who had worked for pay in the last 12 months; in 61 percent of client households, the most-employed person from the past 12 months is currently out of work.
An estimated 63 percent of client households currently receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. An estimated ++ percent of client households neither currently receive SNAP nor have ever applied for SNAP benefits.
An estimated 32 percent of the Feeding South Florida’s partner agencies reported employing paid staff. The median number of paid full-time-equivalent staff (assuming a 40-hour work week) was three. A median of 15 volunteers a week provided a median of 56 volunteer hours to programs each week.
Data collection was completed between October 2012 and August 2013. For Hunger in America 2014’s complete national and local findings, visit http://feedingamerica.org/.
Feeding South Florida will be conducting a further in-depth analysis of the study, including county-level reports, and sharing the results at Feeding South Florida Hunger Relief Forums throughout October 2014.
To see the full South Florida report, click here.