Using the data collected for the Hunger in America 2010 – Report Prepared for the Food Bank of North Alabama published by Feeding America, we are able to offer a portrait of a typical person and household seeking food assistance in North Alabama today.
The person is a white, single parent, female with 1 to 2 children in her household. She is between the ages of 30 – 49 and lives in an urban center. She is as likely to have a high school diploma as not. Her children are between the ages of 6 – 17. She lives in an apartment with a telephone and serviceable car.
In 2009, the typical family seeking emergency food assistance in North Alabama had a monthly household income of $850 and an annual household income of $10,450. Throughout the year the household must choose between buying food and paying the utility bills or medical bills. The family may not have a chronically ill household member. The majority of households relied on Medicaid for their primary health care coverage, and most households did not utilize SNAP (food stamp) or WIC resources.
The three significant changes occurred between 2006 and 2010 in the portrait of the average person seeking food assistance: (1) The person’s education level increased; (2) the family members were in better health; and (3) the family lived in an urban center rather than in the suburbs or a rural community. These shifts in education levels, the number of ill household members and the move from rural to urban centers may reflect the effects of recent job losses and the economic downturn – which likely forced people to use food assistance who have not had to seek help before.
This is consistent with the 21% increase from 2006 to 2010 in unduplicated persons receiving food assistance in North Alabama. The number of people served jumped from approximately 83,000 in 2006 to 104,000 in 2010.