For millions of Americans, hunger is no game

Hunger isn’t just a problem overseas. In communities like Immokalee, Florida, poverty leaves American families unable to provide the food their children need to stay healthy and do well in school.

Story by Chris Huber, with reporting by Pat Curry.
Published October 17, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

For more than three years, Andrea Francisco and her husband, Clemente, picked tomatoes on a farm in Immokalee, Florida.

Paid at a rate of about 50 cents per 32 pounds, they had to pick 3,200 pounds to bring home $50.

Even that amount often wasn’t enough to adequately feed their family of six.

“Many times, we had no meat in the refrigerator, and would only eat noodles or rice,” Andrea says. “It was very difficult. The children would ask for something specific, and we couldn’t provide it.”

Not an isolated problem

Andrea and Clemente represent millions of families across the United States who struggle with hunger.

Nearly 15 percent of U.S. households are considered to be food-insecure at some point in the year. That’s more than 50 million Americans, including 16.7 million children.

Last year, about 57 percent of this group relied on emergency food assistance, such as food stamps, free or reduced-price meals in school, or their local food bank.

Wide-reaching consequences of hunger

While the effects of hunger aren’t always obvious, chronic undernourishment can lead to physical problems such as anemia and stunted growth. Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often, recover more slowly, and are more likely to experience fatigue.

Lack of the right nutrients can hinder a child’s concentration, affecting his or her ability to learn and perform in school. It can also cause aggressive behavior and problems getting along with others.

World Vision works in 14 urban and rural locations across the United States — including Immokalee — to provide services and resources to families that help break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Where need is greatest

Twenty states had food insecurity rates at or above the national average of 14.7 percent. The top states with high food insecurity rates:

1.  Mississippi: 19.2 percent
2.  Arkansas: 19.2 percent
3.  Texas: 18.5 percent
4.  Alabama: 18.2 percent

5.  Georgia: 17.4 percent
6.  North Carolina: 17.1 percent
7.  New Mexico: 16.5 percent


Worldwide, approximately 870 million people are affected by hunger.

Three ways you can help

Please pray for children and families right here in the United States who struggle with hunger and poverty. Pray that Americans would have the will to care for those who are in need, both abroad and here at home.

Make a one-time donation to help feed a family in the United States for three days. Your gift will help deliver nutritious meals — like oatmeal, lentil soup, pasta, and bean-and-rice casseroles — to families affected by disaster, job loss, homelessness, and other crises.

Give monthly to support World Vision's work with children and families in the United States. Your monthly donation will help us provide support to struggling communities across the country through interventions like food, warm clothing, school supplies, academic mentoring, youth empowerment, and more.