New Food Insecurity Numbers Show Improvement for Working Families, Proving Federal Nutrition Programs Must Be Protected
September 6, 2017 (South Burlington, VT) – A report released today by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Service shows that 41 million Americans lived in households struggling with food insecurity in 2016. This is a slight improvement compared to 42.2 million households reporting food insecurity in 2015 and this same trend was seen in Vermont with a drop to 10.11% of Vermonters living in food insecure households in 2016 compared to 11.43% in 2015.
As the economy continues to improve, Vermonters are getting back to work, although often accepting jobs with fewer hours and lower pay than the jobs they held before the Great Recession. This is where Hunger Free Vermont’s work to bolster the nutrition safety net and support Vermont’s families has been instrumental in reducing overall food insecurity in recent years. “The incredible progress our team and partners have made in the last few years to increase models like universal free school meals and moving school breakfast to the ‘after the bell’ have dramatically increased participation in child nutrition programs,” remarks Marissa Parisi, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont, “We also continue to increase accessibility of the 3SquaresVT program and support initiatives that help Vermonters reach economic self-sufficiency, and afford nutritious meals at home.”
All of this work to strengthen the nutrition safety net, coupled with an improving economy, has contributed to Vermont’s food insecurity numbers moving from 1 in 9 to 1 in 10 Vermont households experiencing food insecurity—the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. “We are happy to see Vermont working families getting what they need and to see this reflected in the food security numbers,” notes Parisi. “However, we are very concerned that our growing senior population is still the demographic with the lowest participation in 3SquaresVT. Seniors are often isolated in Vermont, living on fixed incomes, and particularly adverse to the perceived stigma around utilizing 3SquaresVT benefits. We have been focusing on this population for years and outreach to this population will continue to be critical in the coming years.”
Multiple national studies show that food insecurity harms health, the ability to learn, productivity in the workforce, and our state and nation’s economic strength. Hunger Free Vermont continues to work at the systems level and on the ground to ensure a strong safety-net for those struggling with food insecurity as well as advocating for economic policies that sustainably prevent hunger in our communities.
The full report can be read at: Household Food Security in the United States in 2016.
Alida Duncan, Development & Marketing Director
Hunger Free Vermont
P: (802) 865-0255
About Hunger Free Vermont: Hunger Free Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters. Since 1993 Hunger Free Vermont’s outreach programs have substantially enhanced Vermont’s nutrition safety net and increased access to nutritious foods. www.hungerfreevt.org