Front Burner Blog

Hunger in America: Health & Well-being

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.

Health and Well-being

Health challenges facing people using food programs

Chronic diseases often require expensive medication and special diets. Among Food Lifeline clients, nearly half live in a household where someone has diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s no surprise then that more than half of all client households have unpaid medical bills, forcing people to make real and difficult decisions. In the last year, 70% of households had to choose between medicine and food and a third of them had to make that decision every month.

Another difficult choice is between getting enough food and getting healthy food. Nearly 9 out of 10 households purchased inexpensive food, even when they knew it was less healthy. At the same time, about half of clients said they wanted to get more fresh fruits and vegetables and protein from the food bank.  

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