Hunger and Homelessness

While many people group hunger and homelessness together, the two issues are not as closely related as one might think. A look at the facts about homelessness and food insecurity data show that both hunger and homelessness often have distinct causes, and can have very different impacts on segments of the population.

By the Numbers

Click a state to get a snapshot of the hunger and homelessness statistics.

% Food Insecure

Less than 10% - 10 - 13.9% - 14 - 17%% - 18 - 21% - 22 - 25%

Information sourced from: The Alliance To End Hunger National Alliance To End Homelessness

The Facts

Though the homeless are often the public face of inequality and food insecurity in the US and across the world, hunger impacts many millions more people than homelessness and its effects are not as readily visible to the general public.

About Hunger

North America is often regarded as the land of plenty, and yet Hunger is still an issue that affects millions of Americans every year.

Hunger Facts

  • 1 in 8 Americans live on incomes that put them at risk for hunger.
  • More than 13 million American children rely on food banks for assistance.
  • Food insecurity exists in every single county and congressional district in the United States.
  • A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that only 11% of those requesting emergency food assistance were homeless.
  • More than 21 million low-income children qualify for free or reduced-cost school lunches.
  • Most people tend to associate food drives with the holiday season. Food Banks, however, face their greatest need during the summer months, when classes end and children are no longer receiving free or reduced-cost meals at school. That's why we urge everyone to hold a summer food drive to make the most impact in your community.

Causes

  • Income Inequality - Hunger in the United States is often caused by income inequality and poverty. A large majority of the clients at food banks have at least one employed person in the household. After the rent/mortgage, electricity, and other bills are paid, however, there is often not enough money remaining to provide meals for the household. As a result, families are forced to rely on food banks to make up the gap.
  • Food Deserts - Food Deserts are areas or neighborhoods where residents do not have access to a grocery store that provides the wholesome and nutritious foods that are necessary for a healthy diet. These districts lack an assortment of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. Instead, processed, sugar, and fat-laden options are often the only items available.

Source: Feeding America

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About Homelessness

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, over 610,042 people experience homelessness on any given night in the US.

Homelessness Facts

  • Chronic homelessness is the term given to individuals that experience long-term or repeated bouts of homelessness. The chronically homeless are often the public face of the issue, however, they make up only 15% of the entire homeless population on a given day.
  • Nearly 48,000 or 8.5% of all homeless persons are veterans
  • On a given night, nearly 20% of the homeless population had serious mental illness or conditions related to chronic substance abuse.

Causes

  • The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest factors behind contributing to homelessness.
  • According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a family with a full-time worker making minimum wage could not afford Fair Market rent for a two bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.
  • A renter earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 90 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the Fair Market Rent and 112 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom.
  • Poverty is the other major factor that contributes to the homelessness epidemic. A lack of employment opportunities, combined with a decline in public assistance leaves low-income families just an illness or accident away from being put out on the streets.

Even More resources on Hunger & Homelessness

Easy Ways You Can Make A Difference

Use our resources to start a food drive in your community. We'll help you set up the event, make fliers, contact press and send a moving truck to help with the donations! Visit our Food Drive page for tips on starting a food drive in your town.

Advocate for change. You can use your voice to support the programs that provide vital assistance to the less fortunate. Visit our Advocacy page to find out how you can join the conversation.

Moving? Or know someone who is? Urge your friends and family to use our Find A Mover tool to find relocation companies near you that are working tirelessly to fight hunger.