Jun 16, 2022 - News

Food insecurity affected one-third of D.C.-area residents this past year

Two people, one in front of the other, push shopping carts piled with brown boxes that say FOOD BANK on them.

Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The Washington Post via Getty Images

One-third of people in the Washington region — more than 1.2 million people — experienced food insecurity in the past year, including nearly half of Prince George’s County households.

Why it matters: The Capital Area Food Bank’s annual report on food insecurity in the region over the past year paints a grim picture of an escalating food insecurity crisis.

  • This year’s hunger report surveyed nearly 4,000 local residents about food insecurity and inequity.

What’s happening: Of those experiencing food insecurity, most (77%) are employed, but a third of the region is earning less than they were in March 2020. Those experiencing food insecurity are overrepresented in this group.

  • The increased need for food assistance has doubled the need for meals, Capital Area Food Bank says. Prior to the pandemic, it provided more than 30 million meals a year. This past year, it distributed 64 million meals.

By the numbers: Food insecurity hit local residents of color the hardest, with two-thirds of non-white households with children experiencing food insecurity. Households with children are also twice as likely to be impacted.

  • The prevalence of food insecurity was 55% among Hispanic residents, 50% among Black residents, and 13% among white residents.
  • Prince William County and Washington, D.C., came up behind Prince George’s County with a 36% food insecurity prevalent rate, while Arlington County had the lowest rate at 21%.

What they’re saying: The report calls for higher wages for workers as well as paid leave. It also calls for tax credits, including expanding the child tax credit that lapsed last year, among other interventions.

The big picture: The report comes as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to combat inflation.

  • Last November, Capital Area Food Bank CEO and president Radha Muthiah told Axios that inflation was proving a challenge for the food bank’s food purchasing budget.
  • Meanwhile, individuals and families were finding that their food budget was no longer covering all of their meals, thus turning to the food bank, Muthiah said.

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