From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger in Working America

Food insecurity is a reality for millions of Americans every year. Some turn to the government for food assistance; some turn to private food charities. And while many of us think of those using food banks as destitute or homeless, the reality is much different.

In fact, more than half (54%) of all households seeking charitable food assistance in the past year include at least one member who had employment. This new report from Oxfam America and Feeding America finds that 25 million people in working families turned to the Feeding America network during 2013. Of the more than 17 million American households facing food insecurity, many have working members whose wages are too low to support themselves and their families.

What’s more, these working families are not turning to food banks only in emergencies: most report depending on the local food pantry as part of their regular survival strategy. Most face wrenching choices between paying for food—or heating their home, buying medicine for a family member, or making the mortgage.

Hard work is the bedrock on which our country is built. Anyone willing to work a full-time job should earn a decent living: enough to sustain themselves and their family, and to find a path out of poverty.

Raising the minimum wage would be a solid step to providing more economic security for these workers and their families. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would give at least 25 million workers a raise, lift millions of families out of poverty, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and boost economic recovery. 

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