HUNGER IN WASHINGTON IS A REALITY
Hunger can happen to anyone. It's the child that sits next to your child at school. It's the family down the street, where both parents are working, but pay so much for health insurance and child care that it's hard to make ends meet. It's the senior citizen waiting with you at the bus stop who worked hard and saved for retirement but is now facing a depleted retirement account and outrageous prescription costs.
What Hunger Looks Like in Western Washington
The following information is from the 2010 Hunger in America study. To view the full report, click here.
Hunger can affect anyone.
- More than 45% of the individuals using a food bank, meal program or shelter in Western Washington have some form of post-secondary education. Only 9% are actually homeless.
- 35% of the people Food Lifeline serves are children.
- 14% of the people Food Lifeline serves are seniors.
- Hunger causes many families to make difficult choices.
- 47% of the people Food Lifeline serves had to choose between food and paying for heat or utilities.
- 29% of the people Food Lifeline serves had to choose between food and paying for medicine or medical care.
- 42% of the people Food Lifeline serves had to choose between paying for food and paying for rent or mortgage.
Every two years, Food Lifeline researches and prepares our Missing Meals report which estimates the number of meals that low-income individuals in Western Washington who are hungry or at risk of hunger, are not able to provide for themselves either from their own budgets or through feeding programs. Food Lifeline’s missing meals report shows that more than 163 million meals are still needed each year in Western Washington to ensure all low income families and individuals have three nutritious meals a day.
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The Consequences of Hunger:
- Undernourished pregnant women tend to have low birth weight babies. Low birth weight babies suffer from more physical illness, as well as impaired growth and development. Undernourished infants are at greater risk of dying within their first year of life.
- Chronic hunger in adults weakens bones and muscles, increases the risk of illness, worsens existing health problems, and contributes to depression and lack of energy. Hunger in adults also produces nervousness, irritability, and difficulty in concentration.
- Children who are hungry may be less attentive, independent, and curious. Many hungry children have difficulty concentrating; therefore their reading ability and verbal and motor skills suffer. Children who are hungry also often experience headaches, fatigue, frequent colds, and other illnesses that may cause them to be less physically active.
- Hunger can have a devastating emotional impact; it may diminish self-confidence and self-esteem. In a culture that encourages self-reliance, individuals who need food assistance may hesitate to seek help. They may experience feelings of shame or embarrassment due to circumstances that are out of their control.