The Working Poor

The following is adapted from Feeding America's 2009 comprehensive study of hunger in America published in the report Hunger in America 2010:

A common misconception is that if someone is hungry, he or she is unemployed and/or living on the streets. What most people don’t realize is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects more than 49 million Americans. 

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008, 19 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working. i In fact, 36 percent of households served by the Feeding America network, which includes the Food Bank for Westchester have one or more adults working.

Working Poor Facts

  • Female-headed households were more than twice as likely to be among the working poor than male-headed households in 2008.
  • Married-couple families with children under 18 were almost 5 times as likely as families without children to be among the working poor 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.
  • According to a survey on hunger and homelessness conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors, 92% of cities participating in the survey cited unemployment as one of three major causes of hunger in their city.
  • Thirty-nine percent of all adult clients served by Feeding America have completed high school or equivalent degree with no further education beyond high school.
  • Thirty-four percent of all client households served by Feeding America have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
  • Sixty-five percent of working families that received SNAP were single-parent families.

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