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One in four Americans is worried about having enough money to put food on the table in the next year, according to a national hunger survey by Hart Research Associates, commissioned last month by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Tyson Foods, Inc.
Another key finding is that many Americans are unaware of how serious hunger is in their own communities.
The online survey was initiated as part of Tyson's "KNOW Hunger" campaign, which is focused on helping more people understand and actively address the problem of hunger in the U.S. The survey found that 24 percent of respondents indicated they are very or fairly concerned about being able to afford food at some point in the next year, while 31 percent are slightly worried.
The survey, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted on attitudes and perceptions of hunger, also revealed that many Americans may be underestimating the seriousness of hunger in their own community. Two-thirds of the people surveyed rated hunger as a more serious problem nationally than in their own community. Yet according to a report published in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service, 14.7 percent of American households are food insecure at least some time during the year, the highest recorded levels since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted.
While more than one-third of those surveyed indicated they have a direct connection to hunger, 59 percent of respondents were surprised to learn the parents of hungry children in the U.S. typically have full-time jobs. A majority also assumed hunger is concentrated in urban areas; however, according to USDA, hunger is slightly higher among rural households than the national average.
"As we've become involved in hunger relief over the past 10 years, engaging our employees, customers and communities, we've seen evidence of what this survey confirms," said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods. "People do think hunger is a serious issue. They're willing to become involved. But they also need to be shown how it directly impacts their own communities. We believe creating more awareness creates more involvement.