From behind America’s picket fences: hunger in American suburbs is a growing problem

July 27, 2016
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By: Julie Bosley
Director, Philanthropy, Kellogg Company

A survey released by Kellogg Company reveals that vast majority of Americans are greatly unaware of the extent hunger exists in the suburbs. In the nationwide survey, only 35 percent of respondents said families in the suburbs would be more likely to experience hunger than those in urban areas; however, according to government data, hunger, especially for households with children, has been growing faster in suburbs than cities since 2007.1

The recession took a toll on many families, especially those families where one or more parent may have been, or is, underemployed. When talking to a food bank staff member or school teacher, you’ll hear stories about the changing demographics they see in their communities. You may even hear about a food bank client that used to be a food bank donor until they lost their job and needed assistance.

While the survey indicates a widespread lack of awareness on a national scale, there were three demographic groups who stuck out as particularly unaware of the problem of hunger in the suburbs.

  1. Older Americans

    For those age 55 and older:
    * Only 22% believe that people in suburbs are more likely to experience hunger/food insecurity.
    * A mere 5% said that need for assistance is greatest in the suburbs (67% urban; 28% rural).

  2. Unemployed

    * 35% of unemployed respondents said hunger was bigger issue in suburbs than city (versus 41% of those employed full-time)
    * Only 6% of unemployed respondents said assistance in the suburbs was needed most (versus 14% of those employed full time

  3. Single People

    * 24% of single people said a family in suburbs is more likely to experience food insecurity (versus 43% from a family of five)
    * Only 6% of people with no children said assistance was most needed in the suburbs (versus 16% of respondents with children)

These statistics are more than just pieces of trivia; they point to a disturbing lack of awareness that directly impacts how assistance and resources are distributed for hungry families in America’s suburbs. Kellogg Company recognizes the harmful effects of these misconceptions and has been at the forefront of this issue, feeding children and families in need in the suburbs by expanding breakfast programs and donating cereals and snacks to food banks through the company’s Breakfasts for Better Days global signature cause.

Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. To combat these outcomes in the U.S., Kellogg has joined with nonprofit partners to help expand access to the national school breakfast program for children in need, many in suburban school districts, so more children can start their day with a healthy breakfast. To date, Kellogg has helped provide more than 1.4 billion servings of cereal and snacks to those in need around the world through our programs worldwide.

Click here to learn more about how you can help fight hunger in your community.

1 USDA/ERS and see more at: http://www.frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/childhood-hunger-americas-suburbs-0#sthash.RORbzi79.dpuf ”

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