One of the most common misconceptions is the assumption that if someone is hungry, that means they do not have a job and are living on the streets. What most people don’t understand is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects over 50 million Americans.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working . In fact, 36 percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working. ii

Working Poor Facts

  • Female-headed households were more than twice as likely to be among the working poor as male-headed households in 2008.
  • Among families with at least one member working at least half a year, families with children were 4 times more likely than families without children to live in poverty in 2008.iii
  • According to a survey on hunger and homelessness conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors, 88.5% of cities participating in the survey cited unemployment as one of three major causes of hunger in their city.
  • Thirty-nine percent of all adults served by Feeding America have completed high school or equivalent degree with no further education beyond high school. ii
  • 34 percent of all households served by Feeding America have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. ii 
  •  Sixty-five percent of working families that received SNAP were single-parent families. 



i U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2011 Annual Social and Economic Supplement.POV10: People in Families by Number of Working Family Members and Family Structure: 2010.

ii Rhoda Cohen, J., Mabli, F., Potter, Z., Zhao.Hunger In America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

iii U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Profile of the Working Poor, 2008.

iv The U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008 Hunger and Homelessness Survey. December 2010.

v Urban Institute, Sheila R. Zedlewski, E. Mon. Many Low-income Working Families Turn To The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program For Help. August 2009.

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