Hunger in America

FarmFreshGirl2This study by the Vermont Foodbank and Feeding America shows that 1 in 4 people, or an estimated 153,000 people, in Vermont turn to food shelves and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. This includes 33,900 children and 26,010 seniors.

Nationally, Hunger in America 2014 found that more than 46 million people turn to agencies and programs of the Feeding America network of food banks every year. The Vermont Foodbank has been a member of the Feeding America network since 1994.

The study documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by the Vermont Foodbank – their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally-representative study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. Military* and adult students receiving charitable food assistance.

For more information, contact the Vermont Foodbank at

Download the Executive Summary
Download the Full Report

Key Statistics

Clients struggling with health issues:

• 71.8% purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options
• 56% choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care
• 46% of households have a member with high blood pressure
• 23% of households have a member with diabetes

Low wages, underemployment and unemployment driving need:

  • 60% of households have at least one member who has been employed in the past year
    • The person with the longest employment duration is more likely to be employed part-time (85.5%) than full-time (14.5%).
  • 5% of respondents have faced foreclosure or eviction in the past five years

Clients are making tough choices and trade-offs to keep food on the table:

  • 63% report choosing between paying for food and utilities
    • 21% are making the choice every month
  • 58% report choosing between paying for food and transportation
    • 22% are making the choice every month
  • 56% report choosing between paying for food and medicine/medical care
    • 23% are making the choice every month
  • 52% report choosing between paying for food and housing
    • 17% are making the choice every month
  • 20% report choosing between paying for food and education expenses
    • 9% are making the choice every month

More than half (53.9%) of households reported using three or more coping strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months. The frequency of these strategies among all households include:

  • 8% purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food
  • 4% receive help from friends or family
  • 6% eat food past the expiration date
  • 4% grow food in a garden
  • 31% water down food or drinks
  • 3% pawn or sell personal property
“The results of this study show us that the face of hunger is one we might recognize. Many of our neighbors who are seeking food assistance have jobs, raise families, work toward education and struggle with health problems, like all of us.” – John Sayles, CEO of Vermont Foodbank
“This data provides a factual basis for decisions about how we as a nation approach hunger relief and protect our most vulnerable citizens.” – Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America

Hunger in America 2014 was conducted using rigorous academic research standards and was peer reviewed by a technical advisory team including researchers from American University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Urban Institute. Nationally, confidential responses were collected on electronic tablets by 6,000 trained volunteer data collectors. The study was funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Download the local reports:

Note: County reports are not available for Addison, Essex, Grand Isle or Orleans Counties.