Hunger 101


In Montgomery County, one of the most affluent counties in the country, hunger is around every corner. Many of the people that need food assistance in our community are families, senior citizens on a fixed budget, people who have mental or physical disabilities, people going through a temporary crisis, and the working poor. The weakened economy, increased unemployment rate, and high costs of living in Montgomery County have made it difficult for many to afford their basic needs.

There are many people in our community who must make choices everyday between having enough to eat and buying the medicine they need. Others find they must choose between paying utility bills or grocery bills.

One in three students attending Montgomery County Public Schools qualifies for a free or reduced price lunch (32.3%). This is a true indication of the poverty that exists in our community.

Each month, there are thousands of people in Montgomery County relying on emergency food programs to put food on the table for their families.

For struggling families, hunger is a harsh reality they face every day.

Self-Sufficiency Standard in Montgomery County

The Self-Sufficiency Standard measures the amount of income that is needed for a family to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard takes into consideration the cost of housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, taxes and miscellaneous expenses.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Montgomery County, researched and published by the Montgomery County Community Action Agency in 2012, indicates the amount needed to make ends meet for one adult, one preschooler, and one school-age child is $36.90 per hour ($77,933 annually) in Montgomery County, or 421% of the Federal Poverty Level. A single adult would need to make $17.07 an hour to meet basic needs. The minimum wage for Maryland is $7.25 an hour. Read more about the Self-Sufficiency Standard here.

Hunger in America

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that in 2010, 46.9 million people were in poverty, up from 37.3 million in 2007. The percentage of children in poverty is 27.7 percent of the total population in poverty.

According to World Hunger, fifty-five percent of food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs. The programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for the food stamp program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch Program.

Food Insecurity's Effects on Children

Children suffer many damaging effects of hunger:

  • Slower brain and cognitive development
  • Insufficient school readiness
  • Poor learning and academic performance
  • Delayed physical, mental, and social development, as well as delayed growth
  • Impeded social behavior, and mental health during school years
  • Lower quality of life
  • Increased risk of obesity

The Food Research and Action Center report on childhood hunger:
Hunger Does Not Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status 2008

National Hunger Facts & Statistics

  • Food insecurity exists in 14.5 percent of all U.S. households.
  • Economists expect U.S. poverty to reach 15.7 percent of the population this year, the highest level since the mid-1960s.
  • Nationally, in 2012, 46.7 million people in an average month relied on the SNAP/Food Stamp Program to help put food on the table.
  • More than 16 million, or almost one in five, American children are at risk of hunger. During the 2009-2010 school year, 20 million children received free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  • In fiscal year 2012, nearly 8.9 million women, infants and children relied on the WIC program every month.

Maryland Hunger Facts & Statistics

  • 10% of Maryland residents live in poverty as defined by the National Poverty level, while 12% are food insecure.
  • Between November 2007 and November 2010, the number of Maryland residents receiving food stamps increased by over 300% (from 159,348 to 643,651 individuals).
  • 244,000 children in Maryland receive Food Stamps.
  • Maryland’s unemployment rate more than doubled from its pre-recession level of 3.5% in December 2007 to 7.4% in November 2010.
  • Over 147,000 residents rely on WIC services.

Who Are The People Who Manna Helps?

Our clients are typically part of hard-working families who do not have enough resources to provide food for themselves and their families. They are forced to make choices between food and everyday necessities and Manna is here to help provide them with food.

Children
Nearly half of the people that Manna helps are children. They are especially vulnerable to effects of hunger. They are the innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control. Some children go to bed without dinner; relying on the meals they receive at school to sustain them.

Senior Citizens
A good many of our clients are senior citizens who live on fixed incomes. A quarter of Maryland residents over age 65 live on Social Security alone. The reality is these dollars just do not stretch far enough in Montgomery County's challenging economic environment. Healthcare costs often place a serious burden on the elderly. Expensive but necessary prescriptions and other uncovered medical care often force them to choose between paying for health care or stocking their pantries.

People who are Ill or Disabled
When a family member is faced with an illness or injury, it can impact the family's ability to purchase food. Many permanently disabled people will never earn enough to be completely self-sufficient, and Manna's assistance enables them to live as independently as possible.

The Working Poor
Most people are surprised that many of our clients are employed. The current cost of living in Montgomery County often means that their dollars do not stretch far enough to cover their basic needs. The escalating costs of housing, health care, food, transportation, and utilities are squeezing more and more families. When funds are low, the rent, doctor, and utility companies get paid first and what's left is what people spend on food; often there just isn't enough money to feed their family. By receiving food from Manna they are able to stretch their limited budgets a little further and pay meet their basic human need for nourishment, shelter and health care.