Statistics on poverty &
food wastage in America
By Samana Siddiqi
Poverty in America? One of the richest countries
in the world?
Yes, poverty is a reality in America, just
as it is for millions of other human beings on the planet. According to
the US Census Bureau, 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America,
including 12.9 million children.
This is despite abundance of food resources.
Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. 700
million hungry human beings in different parts of the world would have
gladly accepted this food.
Here are some statistics on the nature of poverty
and the waste of food and money in America.
-In 2004, requests for emergency food assistance
increased by an average of 14 percent during the year, according to a
27-city study by the United States Conference of Mayors.
-Also in this study, it was noted that on
average, 20 percent of requests for emergency food assistance have gone
unmet in 2004.
-According to the Bread for the World Institute
3.5 percent of U.S. households experience hunger. Some people in these
households frequently skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going without
food for a whole day. 9.6 million people, including 3 million children,
live in these homes.
-America's Second Harvest (http://www.secondharvest.org/),
the nation's largest network of food banks, reports that 23.3 million
people turned to the agencies they serve in 2001, an increase of over
2 million since 1997. Forty percent were from working families.
33 million Americans continue to live in households
that did not have an adequate supply of food. Nearly one-third of these
households contain adults or children who went hungry at some point in
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, March 2002, "Household
Food Security in the United States, 2000"
Wasted food in America
-According to America’s Second Harvest,
over 41 billion pounds of food have been wasted this year.
-According to a 2004 study from the University
of Arizona (UA) in Tucson,
on average, American households waste 14 percent of their food purchases.
Fifteen percent of that includes products still
within their expiration date but never opened. Timothy Jones, an anthropologist
at the UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology who led the study,
estimates an average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year,
just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products.
Nationwide, Jones says, household food waste
alone adds up to $43 billion, making it a serious economic problem.
- Official surveys indicate that every year
more than 350 billion pounds of edible food is available for human consumption
in the United States. Of that total, nearly 100 billion pounds - including
fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and grain products - are lost to waste
by retailers, restaurants, and consumers.
-“U.S.-Massive Food Waste & Hunger
Side by Side” by Haider Rizvi
-According to a 1997 study by US Department
of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) entitled "Estimating
and Addressing America's Food Losses", about 96 billion pounds of
food, or more than a quarter of the 356 billion pounds of edible food
available for human consumption in the United States, was lost to human
use by food retailers, consumers, and foodservice establishments in 1995.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, grain
products, and sweeteners (mostly sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) accounted
for two-thirds of the losses. 16 billion pounds of milk and 14 billion
pounds of grain products are also included in this loss.
Food that could have gone to millions
According to the US Department of Agriculture,
up to one-fifth of America's food goes to waste each year, with an estimated
130 pounds of food per person ending up in landfills. The annual value
of this lost food is estimated at around $31 billion But the real story
is that roughly 49 million people could have been fed by those lost resources.
(For your persona jihad against wastage, see A
Citizen's Guide to Food Recovery)
(The figures below are 1998 figures)
- Proportion of Americans living below the
poverty level: 12.7 percent (34.5 million
- The average poverty threshold for a family
of four: $16,660 in annual income
- The average poverty threshold for a family
$13,003 in annual income
- Poverty rate for metropolitan areas:
- Poverty rate for those living inside central
cities: 18.5 percent
- Poverty rate for those living in the suburbs:
- Percentage and number of poor children:
18.9 percent (13.5 million)
- Children make up 39 percent of the poor
and 26 percent of the total population.
- The poverty rate for children is higher
than for any other age group.
- -for children under age 6 living in families
with a female householder and no husband present: 54.8 percent
- -for children under age 6 in married-couple
families: 10.1 percent
- Poverty rate for African Americans:
- Poverty rate for Asians and Pacific Islanders:
- Poverty rate for Hispanics of any race:
- Poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites: 8.2 percent
A JIHAD AGAINST POVERTY
Page on Poverty
on Poverty & Food Wastage
the Mother of Homeless in Chicago
and Hadith on Helping the Poor
Against Food Wastage: How tos
Things Families can do for the Poor
for Imams on How to Help the Poor
Tips for Teens on How to Help
a Zakat Clinic
Tips for your Zakat Committee
our Money Page