The study is the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking charitable food assistance in the United States ever conducted.
Among the findings of the study:
- 40 percent of households report that, in the past year, they have watered down food or drinks to make them last longer, in an effort to have enough food to feed everyone in the home. This rate rises to 45 percent among households with children in the home.
- Sixty-nine percent of households report choosing between paying for utilities and paying for food in the past year. Thirty-four percent report making this choice every month. This is a particularly tough choice to make in the midst of harsh, cold winters, especially in homes that include seniors and children.
- Nearly 5 million households not currently enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) may qualify for the program based on their reported household income.
- Among the nearly 55 percent of households who receive SNAP benefits, a fifth exhaust their full month’s benefit within a week.
- Only 5 percent of the households served by Feeding America are homeless.
- 57 percent of households report choosing between paying their housing costs and buying food in the past year. 27 percent report making this choice every month.
- Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of agencies served by Feeding America report reductions in services in the past year, totaling 11,000 agencies that have needed to cut they hours they operate, lay off staff, or limit the area they can serve.
- An estimated 28 percent of feeding programs (such as food pantries and meal programs) report having less food available than needed to meet client needs.
More than 60,000 people confidentially answered questions about their personal circumstances for the study.
The study represents findings from 200 Feeding America food banks, which annually provide more than 3 billion meals to people facing hunger through 58,000 food pantries, kitchens, and meal service programs.
Initial findings released in August reported that, at some point in the year, more than 46 million people are currently relying on food assistance from an agency served by Feeding America, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.