Hunger Facts

Source:  Bread for the World

  • More than 800 million people in the world go hungry.
  • In developing countries, 6 million children die each year, mostly from hunger-related causes.
  • In the United States, 12 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger

Domestic Hunger & Poverty Facts

Hunger persists in the U.S. *  33.6 million people—including almost 13 million children—live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger. This represents approximately one in ten households in the United States (10.7 percent).

People facing hunger are increasingly turning to the Food Stamp Program for assistance in feeding their families. * Following years of decline, participation in the food stamp program has been on the rise over the past two years. In August 2002 (the last month for which data are available) 19.7 million people participated in the food stamp program. March 2002 was the first month since July 1998 in which the number of food stamp participants exceeded 19 million.

Churches and charities are straining to serve rising requests for food from their pantries and soup kitchens, especially from working people. * The U.S. Conference of Mayors reports that in 2002 requests for emergency food assistance increased an average of 19 percent. The study also found that 48 percent of those requesting emergency food assistance were members of families with children and that 38 percent of adults requesting such assistance were employed. High housing costs, low-paying jobs, unemployment, and the economic downturn led the list of reasons contributing to the rise. * America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s largest network of food banks, reports that 23.3 million people turned to the agencies they serve in 2001, an increase of over 2 million since 1997. Forty percent were from working families.

International Facts on Hunger and Poverty

* More than 840 million people in the world are malnourished—799 million of them are from the developing world. More than 153 million of them are under the age of 5. * 6 million children under the age of 5 die every year as a result of hunger. * Of the 6.2 billion people in today’s world, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 per day. * The richest 5 percent of the world’s people have incomes 114 times that of the poorest 5 percent. * Virtually every country in the world has the potential of growing sufficient food on a sustainable basis. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has set the minimum requirement for caloric intake per person per day at 2,350. Worldwide, there are 2,805 calories available per person per day. * Fifty-four countries fall below that requirement; they do not produce enough food to feed their populations, nor can they afford to import the necessary commodities to make up the gap. Most of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

But we CAN end hunger.

We have the means. The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world’s poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year.

What makes the difference between millions of hungry people and a world where all are fed?

Only a change in priorities. Only the will to end hunger.

Want to learn more? Bread for the World Institute collects facts on domestic hunger, global hunger, and debt relief. It also generates answers to frequently asked questions about hunger. Or you can learn about what issues Bread for the World members are working on right now to bring an end to hunger in the U.S. and around the world. You can also get involved or write a letter to your member of Congress.