Hunger in America

Hunger in America 2014

The Vermont Foodbank is participating in Hunger in America 2014, a national study conducted across the Feeding America network, from April through August of 2013. Conducted every four years, Hunger in America is the largest study of charitable food assistance in America. Hunger in America is the only study of its kind and is referenced widely by anti-hunger relief advocates to argue for resources to improve the lives of millions of people across the country. Its findings will enable the Vermont Foodbank to more effectively understand the needs in our communities and our capacity to meet those needs.


Data collection for Hunger in America 2014 is complete. Thank you to the volunteers and Foodbank staff that helped conduct more than 700 interviews at nearly 100 locations. We are so grateful! The final results from the interview and a completed study will be available in September 2014. If you have any questions about Hunger in America 2014, please contact Judy Stermer at or 802-477-4108.


Hunger in America 2010


The 2010 report presents information on the clients and agencies served by The Vermont Foodbank. The information is drawn from a national study, Hunger in America 2010, conducted in 2009 for Feeding America (FA) (formerly America's Second Harvest), the nation's largest organization of emergency food providers. The national study is based on completed in person interviews with more than 62,000 clients served by the FA national network, as well as on completed questionnaires from more than 37,000 FA agencies. The study summarized below focuses on emergency food providers and their clients who are supplied with food by food banks in the FA network. Emergency food programs are defined to include food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters serving short-term residents. It should be recognized that many other types of providers served by food banks are, for the most part, not described in this study, including such programs as Congregate Meals for seniors, day care facilities, and after school programs.


For a complete copy of the Hunger in America 2010 study, please contact Judy Stermer at or call 802-477-4108.  Here are several key findings: 

How many clients receive emergency food from the Vermont Foodbank?

  • The FA system served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc provides emergency food for as many as 86,000 people annually.
  • About 8,200 different people receive emergency food assistance in any given week.


Who receives emergency food assistance?


FA agencies served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc provide food for a broad cross section of households. Key characteristics include:

  • 33% of the members of households served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc are children under 18 years old (Table 5.3.2).
  • 8% of the members of households are children age 0 to 5 years (Table 5.3.2).
  • 6% of the members of households are elderly (Table 5.3.2).
  • About 87% of clients are non-Hispanic white, 8% are non-Hispanic black, 3% are Hispanic, and the rest are from other racial groups (Table 5.6.1).
  • 36% of households include at least one employed adult (Table 5.7.1).
  • 67% have incomes below the federal poverty level (Table during the previous month.
  • 12% are homeless (Table


Many clients are food insecure with low or very low food security

  • Among all client households served by emergency food programs of The Vermont Foodbank, Inc, 77% are food insecure, according to the U.S. government's official food security scale. This includes client households who have low food security and those who have very low food security (Table 
  • 37% of the clients have very low food security (Table
  • Among households with children, 84% are food insecure and 34% are food insecure with very low food security (Table


Many clients report having to choose between food and other necessities

  • 42% of clients served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel (Table 6.5.1). 
  • 34% had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage (Table 6.5.1).
  • 23% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care (Table 6.5.1).
  • 30% had to choose between paying for food and paying for transportation (Table 6.5.1).
  • 42% had to choose between paying for food and paying for gas for a car (Table 6.5.1).

Do clients also receive food assistance from the government?

  • 61% of client households served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (Table 7.1.1); however, it is likely that many more are eligible (Table 7.3.2).
  • Among households with children ages 0-3 years, n.p. participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (Table 7.4.1).
  • Among households with school-age children, 66% and 63%, respectively, participate in the federal school lunch and school breakfast programs (Table 7.4.1).
  •  Among households with school-age children, 11% participate in the summer food program (Table 7.4.1).

Many clients are in poor health

  • 25% of households served by The Vermont Foodbank, Inc report having at least one household member in poor health (Table 8.1.1).

Most clients are satisfied with the services they receives from the Vermont Foodbank

  • 87% of adult clients said they were either "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with the amount of food they received from their provider; 94% were satisfied with the quality of the food they received (Table 9.2.1).

How larger is the Vermont Foodbank?

  • The Vermont Foodbank, Inc included approximately 252 agencies at the administration of this survey, of which 252 have responded to the agency survey. Of the responding agencies, 162 had at least one food pantry, soup kitchen, or shelter.

What kinds of organizations operate emergency food programs of the Vermont Foodbank?

  • 40% of pantries, 30% of kitchens, and 11% of shelters are run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations (Table 10.6.1).
  • At the agency level, 35% of agencies with at least one pantry, kitchen, or shelter and 26% of all agencies including those with other types of programs are faith-based (Table 10.6.1).
  • Private nonprofit organizations with no religious affiliation make up a large share of other types of agencies (Table 10.6.1).

Have agencies with emergency food providers reported changes in the number of clients seeking services?

  • Among programs that existed in 2006, 83% of pantries, 80% of kitchens, and 71% of shelters of The Vermont Foodbank, Inc reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites (Table 10.8.1).

Where do agencies with emergency food providers obtain their food?

  • Food banks are by far the single most important source of food for agencies with emergency food providers, accounting for 71% of the food distributed by pantries, 36% of the food distributed by kitchens, and 36% of the food distributed by shelters (Table 13.1.1).
  • Other important sources of food include religious organizations, government, and direct purchases from wholesalers and retailers (Table 13.1.1).
  • 56% of pantries, 24% of kitchens, and 17% of shelters receive food from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (Table 13.1.1).


Volunteers are extremely important to the Feeding America network

  • As many as 91% of pantries, 91% of kitchens, and 59% of shelters in The Vermont Foodbank, Inc use volunteers (Table 13.2.1).
  • Many programs rely entirely on volunteers; 63% of pantry programs and 28% of kitchens have no paid staff at all (Table 13.2.1).


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