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About Hunger

Facts about hunger in the U.S. and around the world

This was the state of world hunger and food insecurity in June of 1999, the year that The Hunger Site was created to help combat hunger.

International Hunger Facts

  • About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five. The Hunger Project, United Nations
  • In 1999, 10% of children in developing countries died before the age of five. This was down from 28% fifty years ago. CARE
  • Famine and wars cause just 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about most often. The majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition. Families simply cannot get enough to eat. This in turn is caused by extreme poverty. The Institute for Food and Development Policy
  • Besides death, chronic malnutrition also causes impaired vision, listlessness, stunted growth and greatly increased susceptibility to disease. Severely malnourished people are unable to function at even a basic level. United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
  • In 1999, it was estimated that one billion people in the world suffered from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually died from it each year. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • According to the 1996 World Food Summit, 840 million people live in the condition of chronic, persistent hunger -- one-seventh of our human family. The vast majority of hungry people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Often it takes just a few simple resources for impoverished people to be able to grow enough food to become self-sufficient. These resources include quality seeds, appropriate tools and access to water. Small improvements in farming techniques and food storage methods are also helpful. Oxfam
  • Many hunger experts believe that ultimately the best way to reduce hunger is through education. Educated people are best able to break out of the cycle of poverty that causes hunger. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Hunger in the United States

  • In 1999, a year marked by good economic news, 31 million Americans were food insecure, meaning they were either hungry or unsure of where their next meal would come from. 12 million of these Americans were children. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1999
  • In the same year, some 5 million adults and 2.7 million children lived in households where someone in the household had experienced hunger in the previous year due to a lack of resources. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1999
  • Seniors make up 16.5% of all emergency food pantry clients, 17% of all soup kitchen clients, 4% of all emergency shelters clients and 17.5% of the clients served by other non-congregate feeding programs such as Meals on Wheels. Seniors, however, only account for 13% of the U.S. population.
  • According to research conducted by the Urban Institute, 1.9 million seniors must choose between buying food and buying needed medicine.
  • Approximately 28% of all emergency food clients have missed meals in the past month. Additional research has estimated that 1.1 million seniors have skipped meals because there is no food in the house.
  • In 1999, approximately 12 million American children were food insecure, meaning they were hungry or at risk of hunger. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1999
  • Of the more than 21 million emergency food recipients served by Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest), more than 8 million are children (38%). Second Harvest's Hunger 1997: Faces & Facts
  • 46% of food recipient households with children include at least one child under age 5. Second Harvest's Hunger 1997: Faces & Facts
  • 9% of food recipient households report that children have missed meals in the past month because they lacked food or the means to obtain food. Second Harvest's Hunger 1997: Faces & Facts
  • Research indicates that even mild malnutrition experienced by young children during critical periods of growth may lead to reductions in physical growth and affect brain development. "The Links Between Nutrition and Cognitive Development of Children," 1998, Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy
  • According to a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report, 16.1 million children in the U.S. were living in working poor families.

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