Nearly 15 Percent of Households in D.C. Struggle to Afford Enough Food


Emily Pickren

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2018 — Despite an improving economy, 14.8 percent of households in the District of Columbia reported that they struggled to buy enough food for themselves and their families during 2016–2017, according to a new report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC, a national anti-hunger advocacy group).

How Hungry is America? provides data on food hardship — the inability to afford enough food— nationally, for every state, the District of Columbia, and 108 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) across the country. The report is based on 337,690 interviews in 2016–2017.

Nationally, the report found that after several years of decline, the food hardship rate for all households increased from 15.1 percent in 2016 to 15.7 percent in 2017. The food hardship rate for households with children is 1.3 times higher than for households without children.

The report finds that the District of Columbia ranked 24th in the nation for food hardship (1 being the worst), with 1 in 7 households reporting they had trouble putting food on the table.

The food hardship rate in the District is almost twice as high in households with children than households without children, 23.3 percent compared to 12 percent, respectively.

“Food hardship, especially among households with children, is a serious problem that requires a serious response,” said Beverley Wheeler, director, D.C. Hunger Solutions. “Too many people in the District, especially those who live east of the river — in the part of the city with the fewest number of supermarkets per capita — have been left behind in the economic recovery from the Great Recession, and are still struggling to put food on the table.”

About the Report
How Hungry is America? focuses on data for the nation for 2017 and for every state and the District of Columbia, and 108 MSAs for 2016–2017. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing hundreds of households daily since January 2008. The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” A “yes” answer to this question is considered to signal that the household experienced food hardship. FRAC uses the phrase “food hardship” to avoid confusion with the annual Census Bureau/U.S. Department of Agriculture survey and analysis that produces “food insecurity” numbers, but the concepts are comparable.


D.C. Hunger Solutions works to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents.