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Report shows nearly a third of DC area experiences food insecurity

A worrying number of people in the greater Washington, D.C. area had poor access to food over the last year, suggests a Capital Area Food Bank study.

The study, which surveyed 5,300 residents of the D.C-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area, found that 32 percent “experienced food insecurity at some point between May 2022 and April 2023.” Over half of those reported being severely food insecure.

At the county level, D.C. itself, Prince William, VA, and Prince George’s, MD all showed higher levels of food insecurity than the regional average, with Prince George’s food insecure people comprising nearly half of those surveyed.

Food insecurity also disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic residents, households with children, low-income households and people with chronic illnesses – while employment was almost a non-factor. Children themselves were found to be less food insecure than adults, as their parents sacrificed their own food to feed them.

“Looking at these characteristics in concert, the profile of the most common households struggling with food insecurity are families of color who work hard – and earn up to a moderate income – but are still not able to make ends meet,” the report summarized.

The aftershocks of the pandemic, ongoing inflation and loss of pandemic-era government assistance programs were also cited as factors driving food insecurity, with 52 percent of food insecure residents being impacted by all three. About half of those surveyed, regardless of race or income level, also expected it to take more than a year for their household to recover from the pandemic’s effects, with at least 43 percent reporting so even among high-income and food secure residents.

The food bank called on every possible sector to make strides to address food insecurity in the DMV area. Based on a previous study which showed 59 percent of the food bank’s clients only knew one location where they could access free food, it recommended increasing awareness, such as through establishing more refined information systems, and making those available in multiple languages. It also recommended strengthening SNAP and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).


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