Front Burner Blog

Hunger in America: Difficult Decisions

In a four part blog series, we examine hunger in Western Washington and the impact it has on individuals, families and emergency food providers. As part of the Hunger in America Study, Food Lifeline surveyed our member agency food banks, meal programs and emergency shelters, as well as their clients, to get a comprehensive look at whose hungry, the effects of hunger, and how people cope. From raw data came real stories.

Difficult Decisions

Coping strategies families and individuals use when life gets hard

Each of us has a monthly budget including utilities, housing, transportation, food, and other items. What if you didn’t have enough money to pay for all of it? In the last year, 77% of households had to decide between paying their utility bill and buying food. Many households face similar difficult decisions about paying for housing and transportation.

But despite these challenges, clients use a number of coping strategies to keep their families above water: 57% receive help from friends and family, 89% purchase unhealthy food because it is more affordable, while others grow their own food. Clients are resourceful, with almost 70% routinely using three or more of these and other coping strategies in their struggle to make ends meet.

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