Reality: Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world's current food supply. Enough grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories per day – 1,500 more calories per day than recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. This does not even take into account other foods such as fresh produce, meat and dairy. Hunger exists because people do not always have the money to purchase readily available food.
Reality: The meager assistance families receive through the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) hardly allows anyone to live well. The average benefit equates to $1.40 per person per meal. In almost all cases, the SNAP benefits run out before the end of the month forcing families to rely on charitable organizations to access food. Government programs such as SNAP are essential to society because they ensure families receive the sustenance they need so they can contribute to society. How productive can a person be if they haven't eaten a meal for days or longer?
Reality: With the nation's unemployment rate, SNAP provides an essential service so that families receive sustenance while searching for employment. The program is designed to fluctuate with the economy – increase as unemployment rises, decrease as unemployment falls. Additionally, 40% of families who receive SNAP benefits have at least one person working in the family.
Myth 4: The majority of people who receive SNAP benefits are young, able-bodied people – they don't need it.
Reality: 76% of households receiving SNAP benefits include a child, elderly person or a disabled person. This vulnerable demographic represents 83% of all SNAP recipients.
Reality: SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public assistance program in existence. States are required to conduct "quality control" reviews with each SNAP recipient to ensure benefits are accurately distributed. SNAP participation is limited exclusively to families who fall 130% below the poverty line – in reality, the majority of families fall below 83%. Ongoing improvements to regulate the program have kept fraud and abuse to a historic low of less than 2%. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients follow the rules because they desperately need help ensuring their family has food to eat.
Reality: The majority of the counties in Facing Hunger's service region are considered to be rural. There are more than 100,000 individuals in our service area who face hunger on a daily basis. Food insecurity rates are as high as 20% in the counties we serve – the national average is 15.9%. Alleviating hunger in rural areas can be more difficult than in larger cities because those communities have fewer opportunities to obtain necessary resources and lack transportation.
Reality: Studies conducted by the Food Research and Action Center have shown there are direct correlations between food insecurity and obesity. Low-income families do not have enough money to purchase food, and frequently, the food they do have enough money to purchase has little to no nutritional value. When available, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables are more expensive whereas refined grains and foods with high fat and sugar contents are less expensive. Hungry families gravitate towards the latter due to a lack of sufficient household income.