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Feeding America releases State of the Union on hunger

Feeding America released its "State of Hunger in America" ahead of President Obama's State of the Union speech tonight. There are 49 million Americans who suffer from hunger or "food insecurity."

Feeding America receives help from Charity Miles
Charity Miles

Bob Aiken, the CEO of Feeding America, said last night, "While there are signs that our economy is improving, millions of Americans are still struggling to put food on the table. Many families are scraping by on reduced wages or part-time hours, and many more remain jobless."

The economic struggles since 2007 have escalated the number of hungry Americans. While federal food aid program like food stamps (SNAP) exist, these have faced recent cuts by Congress.

A family of four, on average, lost around $432 worth of food annually because of the SNAP cuts that took effect in November of 2013. This means more people will look to food banks for help. However, these agencies are already stretched thin because of the increased demand during the harsh economic times.

Feeding America's report says, "The number of lost SNAP meals is over half the total number of meals distributed annually by Feeding America's national network of food banks, and food banks and other charities simply will not be able to make up the difference."

The report also highlights the terrible consequences of hunger in America, particularly in children:

Children who are malnourished for even a brief period of time may experience irreversible cognitive and physical impairments... The negative health outcomes of hunger that result in absenteeism and lower academic performance can result in a child being held back a grade or dropping out of school. These outcomes lead to a greater likelihood of limited employability, lessened workforce productivity, poorer judgment and poorer job performance.

Feeding America says it's vital that federal aid like SNAP and the TEFAP program that supplies food banks receive support in Congress. The risk of inaction is that hunger will increase in America, the consequences which would be felt for generations to come.