The most meaningful and effective way to help millions of Americans facing hunger is to strengthen assistance programs like SNAP, our nation’s most effective defense against hunger. Grounded in our strong foundation of Jewish values, MAZON calls attention to populations whose challenges have long been overlooked — including military families, veterans, Native Americans, single mothers, and LGBTQ older adults.
Hunger in America
More than 10%
of Americans face food insecurity today. Before COVID-19, the number was 40 million.
12.9 million children
in America are at risk of hunger.
of rural households are food insecure.
of all Native American households are food insecure.
older adults are food insecure.
of single mothers struggle with hunger.
Amount that the average SNAP recipient receives per meal.
Every SNAP dollar
generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity.
“My mom doesn’t know it, but I quit baseball so she wouldn’t have to spend money on my uniform.”
“The food stamps we get aren’t enough to feed four people for a month. It makes me feel sad that my parents sometimes feed us kids and not themselves.”
“I barely make ends meet. I don’t use the lights during the day, and I don’t buy as much food as I’d like.”
“When my food stamps run out, it’s kinda scary not knowing if I'm gonna have any money to eat tomorrow.”
"I make sure that my son eats and then I worry about myself. That’s just what a parent does. I take him to a lunch program to make sure he’s getting food."
MAZON’s Spotlight Fund
MAZON is the national Jewish voice dedicated to fighting for those facing hunger whose struggles are too often over-looked, disregarded, or discounted. We have made a commitment to shine a spotlight on those issues and populations where larger organizations and the government have yet to turn their focus.
Fact #1: There is enough food to feed everyone in the United States.
The best adjective to accurately describe the amount of food available in the United States is abundant. Hunger affects 1 out of every 8 American men, women and children and persists in this country not because of a lack of food, but because we lack the political will to end the problem by ensuring that vulnerable people have equal access to nutritious food.
Fact #2: Charitable programs were created to supplement government nutrition programs.
Charitable organizations — including many of MAZON’s partners — are not set up to feed every hungry person in their community. Food pantries and soup kitchens were created to provide support during temporary or emergency situations, not to solve systemic problems. Many are open only a few days a week and for a few hours of each day. They are largely run by volunteers, often out of basements or closets at their local houses of worship, and they primarily distribute food that has been donated from within their communities. They simply do not have the capacity to feed the number of people who need help.
Fact #3: Government programs are insufficient — they must be strengthened and expanded.
As our country begins to recover from the COVID-19 health and economic crises, it is critical that we strengthen and expand federal nutrition assistance programs like SNAP, which provide a vital lifeline that helps people receive the sustenance they need to get back on their feet. The average benefit provided by SNAP equates to roughly $1.80 per person per meal, which is hardly enough to survive.
Fact #4: You can be overweight and be food insecure.
A growing body of research shows a startling correlation between obesity and hunger. The simple fact is this: people living in poverty cannot afford enough food, and often, what little food they can afford — or what is available in their community — is unhealthy and processed, with low nutritional value. They also tend to have higher levels of stress and reduced opportunities for physical activity. It is the convergence of all these factors that has exacerbated the obesity epidemic among those who are, in fact, hungry.
Fact #5: There is hunger in the military.
The Department of Defense neither tracks the number of military households that struggle with food insecurity nor acknowledges that such a problem exists. And yet, we know that food pantries operate on or near every military base in this country, quietly providing assistance for currently-serving military families in need of food. Furthermore, many military families are shut out of accessing SNAP and other food assistance programs. Learn more.
Fact #6: Many seniors do not receive nutrition benefits that they need.
An estimated 1 out of 7 seniors lives in poverty and 5.4 million seniors struggle with food insecurity in the United States today. Despite this harsh reality, about 60% of seniors who are eligible for support from government programs such as SNAP do not receive these vital benefits. Multiple challenges stand in their way, including lack of awareness of program eligibility, a complicated and seemingly intrusive application process, social and geographic isolation, and fear of stigma from needing help.
Fact #7: SNAP is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs.
SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program. States must conduct regular “quality control” reviews of SNAP case files to ensure that benefits are accurately distributed. And ongoing improvements to regulate the program have kept fraud and abuse to a historic low of less than 2%.
Fact #8: Hunger has many negative impacts.
There is no doubt that hungry people would rather not be hungry and may try to do everything they can to avoid it in the future. Oftentimes, that same hunger also hinders their ability to take such action. Being hungry can be all-consuming and distracting, which in turn decreases productivity in working adults and negatively impacts people’s ability to get jobs. And for children, chronic hunger has devastating effects, impacting their physical development and making it nearly impossible to learn. In both the short and long term, having a substantial population of hungry people — adults or children — impedes the country’s economic prosperity for everyone.
Educate Your Community
This Is Hunger
MAZON’s powerful, immersive digital video experience explores who struggles with hunger in America and why. This Is Hunger features images by renowned photographer and documentarian Barbara Grover, with concept design by Marni Gittleman. Learn more.
MAZON collaborates with diverse stakeholders to showcase what’s possible: a country built on compassion, mutual support, and meaningful opportunity. We hope you will utilize our resources and opportunities for individuals, synagogues, schools, and community groups to learn more and join us to end hunger. Learn more.