Half of American adults will use food stamps, study says

August 24, 2004

ITHACA, N.Y. -- To be worry-free about having enough food is not the norm in the United States, says a Cornell University sociologist.

"Rather, the need to use food stamps is a common American experience that at least half of all Americans between the ages of 20 and 65 will face," says Thomas A. Hirschl, professor of development sociology at Cornell who has completed a study of food stamp use.

Race and education, Hirschl says, have dramatic links to food stamp use: More than 85 percent of African Americans will use food stamps some time between the ages of 20 and 65, compared with 37 percent of white Americans; about 64 percent of adults with less than 12 years of education will use food stamps, compared with 38 percent of adults with 12 or more years of education.

The study, co-authored with Mark R. Rank, professor of social work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, will be published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior . The findings were presented at the Society for Nutrition Education annual meeting in Philadelphia in July 2003.

Looking at the two extremes, the researchers found that about one-quarter of white males with 12 or more years of education will use food stamps, while more than 90 percent of black females with less than 12 years of education will use food stamps some time between ages 20 and 65.

"We also find that while the use of food stamps is often brief, of those who have used food stamps once, about three-quarters will use them again in a different year," says Hirschl. "These findings are in sharp contrast to the belief that the use of the nation's food nutrition safety net is something that happens to someone else and is atypical of the American experience. Rather, they indicate that Americans have a substantial need and use of food stamps, and they suggest a significant risk of food insecurity across the life course." Food insecurity is defined as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the acquisition of acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.

The researchers merged 30 waves (1968 to 1997) of the nationally representative Panel Study of Income Dynamics data set to analyze 260,000 "person years" of information on food stamp use, defined as an individual in a household receiving food stamps sometime during the year.

"The patterns that emerged from our analysis are particularly troubling in light of the fact that food insecurity, along with hunger, have been shown to be closely related to various health problems, including an increased risk in the development of chronic diseases, impairment of psychological and cognitive functioning among children and a greater likelihood of self-reporting health status as poor," report Hirschl and Rank. "The fact that at least four out of 10 Americans will experience food insecurity at some point during their adulthood would appear to represent a significant public health cause for concern."

The findings show that many Americans rely on food stamps to help them through periods of economic turmoil." Yet ironically, the food nutrition safety net that was designed to help alleviate food insecurity and hunger has been under attack in recent years and is threatened by proposals to reduce and restrict enrollment," says Hirschl.
The research was supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded research development grant administered through the Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability. oThomas A. Hirschl



Cornell University

Related Food Insecurity Articles from Brightsurf:

Some U.S. states hit harder by COVID-19 food insecurity
Food insecurity in America is reaching an all-time high during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food insecurity linked to higher risk of cardiovascular death
A new, large-scale, national study provides evidence of the link between food insecurity and increased risk of cardiovascular death.

Penn Medicine researchers find link between food insecurity and cardiovascular death risk
According to preliminary research conducted by researchers at Penn Medicine, increasing rates of food insecurity in counties across the United States are independently associated with an increase in cardiovascular death rates among adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

New UTSA research identifies link between food insecurity and unengaged distance learning
A new study by the UTSA Urban Education Institute found that 26% of local students and parents surveyed said they were experiencing food insecurity, meaning food ran out and they didn't have more.

Rates of food insecurity remain high despite expansion of NYC food assistance programs
In the latest COVID-19 tracking survey from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy conducted from September 25 to 27, 34% of the sample of one thousand New York City adults reported that their households had received SNAP benefits since September 1st, 2020.

Three-quarters of migrants traveling to US through Mexico experience food insecurity
A survey of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico on their way to the United States found that 74 percent of them experienced a degree of food insecurity, ranging from having only one meal to no food at all for one day or longer.

As food insecurity continues to plague New Yorkers, impact on children is worrisome
One in four households with children have reported a child experiencing hunger as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, according to the latest CUNY SPH COVID-19 tracking survey.

'Building wealth and health network' reduces food insecurity without providing food
As the coronavirus pandemic forces so many to reckon with growing food insecurity and increased health challenges, the Building Wealth and Health Network program of Drexel University's Center for Hunger-Free Communities is reducing food insecurity and improving mental health - without distributing any food or medicine.

Survey shows regions of elevated food insecurity due to COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to elevated levels of food insecurity in the southern US compared to other areas, according to new research from University of Arkansas sociologists.

Survey: Food insecurity in Vermont rose 33% during pandemic
Food insecurity in Vermont has increased by one-third during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statewide survey conducted by the University of Vermont at the end of March.

Read More: Food Insecurity News and Food Insecurity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.