June 6, 2005

HALF OF ALL OHIO FOOD PANTRY USERS EXPERIENCED TRUE HUNGER IN 2004; Hunger Awareness Day illustrates plight of Ohio’s hungry families

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks

COLUMBUS — As Ohio approaches National Hunger Awareness Day on June 7, 2005, the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF) has released a new study that uses United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) definitions to describe the clients of the more than 3,000 charities served by Ohio’s 12 Second Harvest Foodbanks.

The Food Security Study

The food security component of the No Name Survey was conducted for OASHF by Ohio University, examines the food security status of Ohioans using food pantries in 2004.  It gathered data from more than 6,000 completed surveys that evaluated household food security, whether there were children or seniors living in the household, and whether the households were in an urban or rural environment.

Food security status was determined based on USDA definitions.  They include:

Food security = having access to enough food, including the ready availability of nutritionally adequate, safe foods, for an active, healthy life and the ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways.

Food insecurity = limited access to food, or a limited or uncertain ability to obtain food, often leading to the use of emergency food supplies or begging, stealing or scavenging for food.

Hunger = the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food or the recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food, which may produce malnutrition over time.

Among the key findings are: 

·        More than one-third of households were food insecure without hunger;

·        More than half of all households were food insecure with hunger; and

·        Just 14 percent of households reported being food secure.

Also, households located in rural counties were less food secure than those from non-rural counties.  Households with children were less food secure than those without children.  Households with residents over age 60 were more likely to be food secure than those without older residents.

“This means that more than half of our clients experienced true hunger – not knowing when or if they might have access to food,” says Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, OASHF executive director.  “That’s more than just dependence on our pantries – that is survival – confirming that our clients have exhausted all the available food lifelines, resources and coping strategies before they come to a food pantry.”

The study also reviewed food insecurity results from the food pantries and charities served by the Second Harvest Foodbank in each of Ohio’s three largest cities. In Cleveland, 55 percent of the clients served reported going hungry; 49 percent of the clients in Cincinnati reported being hungry; and in Columbus, just over one-half of those clients served were hungry.

“This food security study illustrates the severe problems facing Ohioans who turn to food banks for assistance,” said Dr. David Holben, associate professor of food and nutrition at Ohio University and registered dietician, who conducted the food security study for OASHF.  “Given the agricultural bounty and wealth of our state and country, it is not only inhumane but also unwise and short-sighted to allow poor access to food and hunger due to resource constraints to continue to exist at their present levels. Eventually, the consequences will undoubtedly include physical, mental, and social problems.”

Hunger Awareness Day

Business, civic and religious groups are uniting their voices next week to draw attention to America’s hunger epidemic.

The growing number of elderly, working poor and unemployed without access to adequate food has placed an increased demand on foodbanks. The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, combined with more than 200 other members of America’s Second Harvest, will rally across America to draw additional public support.

“Thousands of Ohio families are hungry and question when and where their next meal will come from,” said Fugitt. “National Hunger Awareness Day serves as the battle cry to make certain we can help more and more of these families.”

Fugitt said the Ohio University food security study underscores what food pantry operators have known all along and paints a disturbing picture of those in need. She also noted that demand for emergency food during the summer months is expected to grow, because households with children no longer have access to school breakfast and lunch programs, increasing the challenge for food-insecure families to provide nutritious food to their children.

Community and corporate supporters across the United States have been holding local events leading up to National Hunger Awareness Day. Persons interested in events in their area can check dates and times at www.hungerday.org.

CONTACT: Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, 614/221-4336 or 614/271-4803 (cell)

Food Security Status of Ohio Food Pantry Users by Food Bank*

N = number of households surveyed


Foodbank (N)

USDA Food Security Category

How many households were food insecure?

N (%)

How many households were hungry?

N (%)

Food Secure

N (%)

Food Insecure without Hunger

N (%)

Food Insecure with Hunger

N (%)

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank (1021)

98 (9.6)

365 (35.7)

558 (54.7)

923 (90.4)

558 (54.7)

Second Harvest Foodbank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties (519)

61 (11.7)

180 (34.7)

278 (53.6)

458 (88.2)

278 (53.6)

Cleveland Foodbank (254)

28 (11.0)

85 (33.5)

141 (55.5)

226 (89.0)

141 (55.5)

The Foodbank (361)

50 (13.9)

144 (39.9)

167 (46.3)

311 (86.1)

167 (46.3)

FreeStore Foodbank (673)

93 (13.8)

250 (37.1)

330 (49.0)

580 (86.2)

330 (49.0)

Second Harvest Foodbank of the Mahoning Valley (399)

32 (8.0)

125 (31.3)

242 (60.7)

367 (92.0)

242 (60.7)

Mid-Ohio Foodbank (1383)

172 (12.4)

497 (35.9)

714 (51.6)

1211 (87.6)

714 (51.6)

Second Harvest Foodbank of North Central Ohio (232)

53 (22.8)

85 (36.6)

94 (40.5)

179 (77.2)

94 (40.5)

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southeastern Ohio (460)

59 (12.8)

155 (33.7)

246 (53.5)

401 (87.2)

246 (53.5)

Toledo-Northwest Ohio Foodbank (494)

154 (31.2)

165 (33.4)

175 (35.4)

340 (68.8)

175 (35.4)

West Ohio Foodbank (420)

90 (21.4)

159 (37.9)

171 (40.7)

330 (78.6)

171 (40.7)

*Shared Harvest Foodbank users were not able to participate in this survey due to timing considerations. 

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