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New study: New Jersey hunger soaring due to federal aid cuts

NEW JERSEY – According to USDA food insecurity data – a way of measuring food hardship analyzed by Hunger Free America – across New Jersey, 9% of residents, or 801 thousand people, lived in food insecure households from 2020-2022.

This includes 11.5% of children in the state (229,099), 7.2% of employed adults (312,719), and 7.10% of older New Jersey residents (151,729).

Hunger Free America attributes the surge in food insecurity to the expiration of the expanded Child Tax Credit and universal school meals. Many federal benefit increases have either gone away entirely, or are being ramped down, even as prices for food, rent, healthcare, and fuel continue to soar.

“Our report demonstrates child and adult hunger are serious problems in rural, urban, and suburban areas of all 50 states. This report should be a jarring wake up call for federal, state, and local leaders,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America,

This year, Hunger Free America also compiled the most recent nonparticipation rates for SNAP, WIC, and school breakfast programs by state. In New Jersey, 19% of individuals eligible for SNAP were not receiving SNAP in 2018. WIC had a higher rate of nonparticipation, with 50% of eligible individuals in the state not receiving WIC in 2021.

School breakfast had the highest nonparticipation rate, with 52% of children who receive school lunch in New Jersey not receiving school breakfast during the 2021-2022 school year.

“Effective federal public policies over the previous few years were spectacularly successful in stemming U.S. hunger, but as many of those policies have been reversed, hunger has again soared. At exactly the moment when so many Americans are in desperate need of relief, many of the federally funded benefits increases, such as the Child Tax Credit and universal school meals, have expired, due mostly to opposition from conservatives in Congress. Just as no one should be surprised if drought increases when water is taken away, no one should be shocked that when the government takes away food, as well as money to buy food, hunger rises. Our political leaders must act to raise wages and provide a strong safety net, so we can finally end U.S. hunger and ensure that all Americans have access to adequate, healthy food,” Berg said.

Other findings from the report:

  • 15.8% of children in the U.S. lived in food insecure households in the 2020-2022 time period. The states with the highest rates of food insecure children were Delaware (21.4%), Nebraska (21.0%), Texas (20.7%), Georgia (20.0%), Kentucky (19.7%), and Louisiana (19.7%).
  • Nationally, 9.1% of employed adults in the U.S. lived in food insecure households during the three-year time period. The states with the highest rates of food insecurity among employed adults were Arkansas (13.7%), Texas (13.4%), Louisiana (12.5%), South Carolina (12.5%), and Oklahoma (12.4%).
  • In the U.S., 7.6% of older Americans, defined as people 60 years and older, lived in food insecure households. Louisiana had the highest rate of food insecurity among older Americans at 13.9%, followed by Mississippi (12.7%), District of Columbia (12.6%), West Virginia (11.0%), and Oklahoma (10.4%).
  • The states with the lowest rates of food insecurity were New Hampshire (6.1%), Minnesota (7.3%), Vermont (7.7%), Colorado (8.4%), and North Dakota (8.6%).

The report includes detailed public policy recommendations at the federal level, including passage of the HOPE Act of 2021, reauthorization of the Child Tax Credit, which raised millions of families out of poverty, and immediately fully funding the WIC program for pregnant women, infants, and children under five, including maintaining increased allotments for fruit and vegetable purchases.

To view the full report, “Hunger is Political Choice”, click here.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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