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Daily Newscasts

USDA Report: More Hungry Households in Washington

September 6, 2012

SEATTLE - Not enough money to keep food on the table. That's the challenge for more than 15 percent of Washington households, according to new data from the agency responsible for federal food and nutrition programs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of Washington households considered "food insecure" has crept up since 2006, from slightly more than 11 percent to 15.4 percent.

Washington is tied with Florida, ranking 14th for its percentage of hungry households. Southern states make up most of the top 10.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), says hunger affects one large group in particular.

"Women are more likely to be on food stamps than men. They're single parents; often their wages are lower. As seniors, they're more likely to have lower incomes - so, interestingly, women generally support the program even more strongly than men."

More than 50 million Americans struggled with hunger in 2011, the USDA says, up more than 1 million from the previous year.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering cutting billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. But a new poll from FRAC shows most Americans don't think that's a good idea. Weill says it might be because almost everyone knows someone who has needed the help.

"American families know what the food-stamp program is and what it does. Sometimes, the people who are attacking, it using false images of it, don't realize how many of their constituents are on the program."

Weill says only 10 percent of those polled strongly favored cutting the SNAP program, while 79 percent wanted the funding either kept the same or increased to address the problem of hunger. The poll was taken in late August.

FRAC poll details are online at State-by-state food-insecurity numbers from the USDA are at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA