Survey Finds 15.3 Percent of Households in D.C. Struggle to Afford Food

New Data Underscore Need to Protect and Improve Federal Nutrition Programs

Contact: Colleen Barton Sutton,, 202-640-1121

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2016 – One in six households – 15.3 percent of respondents – in the District of Columbia reported in 2015 they struggled to afford enough food for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). How Hungry is America? (pdf) provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Washington-Arlington-Alexandria. The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 16 percent in 2014.

The report’s food hardship data reveal:

  • D.C. ranked 24 out of 51 states, with 15.3 percent in the city in 2015 reporting they were unable to afford enough food.
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria ranked 100 out of 109 MSAs with a food hardship rate of 12.2 percent for 2013-2014.

“It’s good to see progress, but it is still unacceptable that so many people across the District cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “These data are more than just numbers. They are about households with children, seniors, veterans, working adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to make ends meet.”

“Food hardship is a problem in every corner of America. People are still struggling,” said Jim Weill, FRAC president, noting that too many Americans bear the brunt of insufficient wages, unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, and inadequate safety nets to lift or keep them out of poverty. “Congress must take action to protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs and other programs that benefit low-income people, and build a strong safety net. With political will, we can end hunger in America.”

How Hungry is America? contains data throughout 2014 for every state and 109 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSA). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing hundreds of households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve 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.

The full report is available at