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Americans Overwhelmingly Support Hunger as Policy Priority

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Hunger as Policy Priority

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Research conducted by The Root Cause Coalition shows broad support for this country’s nutrition assistance programs

While many Americans are worried about themselves or others having enough to eat, the public also wants policymakers to make hunger a priority. Research released today by The Root Cause Coalition underscores the importance of nutrition assistance programs, the magnitude of hunger in America and that hunger itself can take on different meanings among individuals and families.

The Nutrition Insecurity, Hunger and America’s Policy Priorities research report, with research conducted among a nationally representative sample of Americans in June 2021, revealed that nearly a quarter of Americans report worrying significantly  about their family having enough to eat (24%) while more than  half report worrying at least some of the time about society as a whole (52%). These numbers were higher still among those under 45, individuals earning less than $40,000/year and parents (37% say they worried a great deal). And for those who expressed worry about themselves not having enough to eat,  more than one-third (37%) said that they didn’t have enough money to buy food while another 30% said that they used their money to purchase other necessities.

“While COVID-19 laid bare many challenges American’s face today, this research underscores the importance of addressing hunger and the impact it has on too many individuals and their families. It is shameful that in today’s society so many people are faced with the challenge of having enough food to put on their table” said Barbara Petee, Executive Director of The Root Cause Coalition.

At the same time, American’s overwhelmingly support hunger as a policy priority (76%), with another 13% saying they aren’t sure. This support was apparent across all demographics – age, gender, race, income, region, education level, and whether individuals were parents or not. Very few (11%) say that it should not be a policy priority. It is not surprising, then, that the public also supports nutrition assistance programs designed to address this very issue. More than eight in 10 (81%) say they at least somewhat support SNAP while a similar number (83%) say they at least somewhat support WIC.  Parents and those earning less than $40,000/year are among those who express even greater support – nearly seven in 10 (69%) of parents surveyed say they wholeheartedly support SNAP and more than seven in 10 (72%) say they wholeheartedly support WIC.

Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern stated, “These important new findings from The Root Cause Coalition show that the American people are demanding action on the hunger crisis like never before. The only question is whether our political leaders have the will to act. I believe we are building that momentum, including through the first White House hunger conference since we put a man on the moon more than 40 years ago.”

American’s concern about hunger is fed by several sources, with more than half (52%) saying they heard about hunger in the news. Second among the list of reported reasons was hearing about hunger via social media (26%). The information – coupled with personal experience for many – results in varied ideas of hunger. Today’s research also underscores the connection to so many social determinants: homelessness, poverty, children, and schools are just some of the words that come to mind when thinking about hunger in this country.


1,000 interviews among adults age 18+ were conducted June 3-7, 2021, using an online survey. The results were weighted to ensure proportional responses. The Bayesian confidence interval for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95% confidence level.

The Root Cause Coalition

Co-founded by AARP Foundation and ProMedica in 2015, The Root Cause Coalition is a non-profit member-driven organization comprised of more than 90 leading health systems, hospital associations, foundations, businesses, national and community nonprofits, health insurers, academic institutions, local governments and policy centers. Our common goal is to achieve health equity for every American.

Please click here to view the full report.

Contact: Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling


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