Report: One in Seven Utah Households Struggles with Hunger
OGDEN, Utah – Despite the U.S. economy growing – and even thriving, in some sectors – a new federal report finds that one in seven Utah households struggles with hunger.
Marcie Valdez, director of the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank in Ogden, says research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows from 2011 to 2013, 14 percent of people in Utah were food insecure – meaning they don't always have enough food to eat.
"The economy is getting stronger and you hear about the unemployment rate being low, but people are still really struggling to meet their basic needs,” she stresses. “A lot of people are underemployed or they continue to be unemployed."
Valdez maintains the USDA numbers show the need for Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which expires next year.
It funds all the federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs.
It also is the funding source for the Women, Infants and Children program, commonly referred to as WIC.
Valdez says many of the Utahans who get assistance from the food bank work, but don't earn enough money to cover their food bill.
"Easily, 40 percent of our families are working poor with small children in their home, or kids under the age of 18 in their home," she points out.
Nationally, the USDA says more than 17 million American households, made up of 49 million people, faced hunger in 2013, a number statistically unchanged from 2012.