Twenty-five percent of African-American households suffered from food insecurity in 2009 - compared to 11 percent of White households - according to the most recent data on hunger released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table at some point in the year. Nationally, one in seven - or 14.7 percent - of U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2009.
"The national figures are record-breaking, but the fact that such a disparity exists between African-Americans and Whites shows that we must call on Congress to do more - especially for communities with the greatest need," said Rev. Derrick Boykin, northeast regional organizer for Bread for the World. "Congress must act now to ensure that programs designed to mitigate hunger are well-funded."
This year, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly called food stamps) hit record levels. African-Americans comprised 22.6 percent of the 42 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits each month. Ninety percent of African-American children will receive SNAP benefits at some point before age 20, compared to 49 percent of all U.S. children.
Nearly 35 percent of African-American children currently live in households that struggle to put food on the table, compared to 16.7 percent of White children.
Congress reconvened this week for a lame duck session with several important unfinished agenda items, including extending tax benefits for low-income working families and reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act, which will improve school breakfast and lunch programs along with WIC and summer food sites.
"In the African-American community in particular, high rates of unemployment have led to dramatic increases in poverty and food insecurity rates over the past few years," Boykin added. "As African-Americans grapple with the ongoing impacts of the recession, Congress needs to ensure that programs like SNAP, the national school meal programs, and WIC are funded at levels to support this time of need."
According to the USDA figures, nearly 27 percent of Hispanics suffer from food insecurity and nearly 35 percent of Hispanic children live in households that struggle to put food on the table.