What do you mean by “hunger”?
Everyone has experienced hunger at some time. Whether it is a tummy-rumble due to a delayed lunch, or mid-morning inability to concentrate because of a skipped breakfast, the experience of temporary hunger is universal.
True hunger, though, is different:
- Hunger: Uneasy or painful sensations as result of insufficient or irregular food intake caused by lack of food; the physical and mental condition that results from not eating enough food due to insufficient resources.
- Malnutrition: Insufficiency of one or more nutritional elements necessary for health and well-being because of an insufficient or poorly balanced diet or faulty digestion or utilization of foods; can result from poor eating habits even when food is plentiful – includes under nutrition, in which nutrients are undersupplied, and over nutrition, in which nutrients are oversupplied.
- Food insecurity: Lack of access to enough nutritionally adequate, safe, and culturally-appropriate food for an active, healthy life through socially acceptable, non-emergency sources; worry about where your next meal will come from.
In the 50 counties of central and eastern Kentucky God’s Pantry Food Bank serves, more than 300,000 people struggle each day to feed themselves and their families. Hunger manifests itself as a consistent lack of enough food to meet nutritional requirements. It can mean fewer meals each day and poor-quality food that is calorie-rich but nutrient-poor. 304,000 is the number of people who live at or below 150% of the federal poverty line: $26,400 per year for a family of three. Very often, these families lack the resources to provide enough food to consistently nourish themselves.
Who is hungry?
Twenty percent of households served by the food bank and its member agencies have one or more adults employed. Among households with children, 43 percent are single-parent households. 58 percent of client households have at least one member in poor health. 74 percent of all clients have monthly household incomes of less than $1,000.
How can so many people be hungry in the United States?
That’s a hard question to answer. There are many reasons that people find themselves at risk of hunger. In recent years the economy has taken its toll on the working poor – those with low-paying jobs. In the primarily rural area we serve, many people are without employment options. Utility and transportation costs also continue to increase, leaving little room in household budgets for food.