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Hunger Myths vs. Realities
Myth: There is no hunger in a country as rich as the United States.
Reality: One in seven people in the United States does not know where their next meal is coming from.
Myth: Welfare reform has taken care of the problem of hunger.
Reality: As caseloads for the Food Stamp and Cash Assistance programs have declined over the past 4 years, the demand for emergency food has increased proportionately.
Myth: Only homeless, jobless people need emergency food.
Reality: Food banks and emergency food providers continue to serve more working poor families than ever. 50% of the folks that receive food from emergency food providers are children and seniors.
Myth: Food Stamps are intended to supply a family with all the food they need every month.
Reality: The food stamp program is a supplemental program. Food stamps cannot be used for soap, diapers, and paper products.
Myth: Hunger doesn't really affect very many people in Michigan.
Reality: In 2006, research showed us that 1,083,000 people in Michigan use food banks each year. That's 1 in 10 people.
Myth: When the unemployment level is low, there are plenty of jobs, so people have enough money to buy their own food. If you have a job, you don't need help with food.
Reality: When we enjoy a robust economy, many people earning minimum or low wages are still poor and struggle to make ends meet. 70% of the folks who use food banks have incomes at or below the poverty level and 40% of these households have at least one person working.
Myth: Hunger is only a big city problem.
Reality: Hunger strikes people in rural, suburban and urban communities. Hunger is about poverty too. 40% of Michigan's hungry people live in rural or suburban areas.
Myth: We can’t have a hunger problem at the same time we have an obesity problem in the U.S.
Reality: Hunger is not about calories; it is about securing an acceptable, healthy, safe food supply for a family and knowing it is there day after day. The causes of obesity are separate.
Myth: Hunger is not a problem for senior citizens because they are wealthier than ever.
Reality: Many seniors still struggle on a fixed income. Medical expenses frequently use up a large chunk of available cash.
Myth: There are so many public programs for getting help with food...no one could be hungry. Government is taking care of the hunger problem.
Reality: Cumbersome application processes, transportation and confusion about eligibility often hinder participation in the public programs. People with food shortages are turning to the non-profit, charity network when they need help.
Developed by the Michigan Building Bridges Coalition, September 2000;
Updated April 2003
Additional Hunger Facts
America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. Through a network of nearly 200 food banks, Second Harvest distributes food to 26 million hungry Americans each year, 8 million of whom are children. Visit their learn about hunger web page. For further information regarding hunger facts world-wide, nationally or locally, please check our additional links.