Nearly a third of Americans have experienced some form of food insecurity in their lives, and 40% have friends and family members that have experienced a lack of consistent healthy food options in their communities, according to a report released Friday by food kit company Hello Fresh.
The “Hunger Matters in the U.S.” report, a survey of 1,200 U.S. adults commissioned by Hello Fresh in November, revealed that 32% of residents reported having some personal experience with food insecurity, and 51% of respondents said the topic is a problem in their community. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) said food insecurity is a problem across the country.
Cost and affordability were considered the main causes, according to the report, with 51% saying the high price of food is the biggest barrier to food security.
“Respondents said inflation was the most pressing concern of issues facing their community, with more than three-quarters (77%) of Americans reporting they were concerned about it and just over half (53%) saying they were very concerned about it,” the report noted. Poverty was the second biggest cause at 66%, according to respondents.
Younger survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were nearly twice as vulnerable as their middle-aged counterparts. Forty-one percent of those in the younger cohort reported having experienced food insecurity versus 21% for those over the age of 55, the report noted.
The survey also found that more than two-thirds of survey respondents (68%) said they would like to see brands and organizations take action on the issue of food insecurity. Fifty-nine percent said they would like to see organizations establish more food banks and meal programs to help address the problem, while 51% cited direct donations as a possible solution. Another 42% said they’d like to see more advocacy for policies that would reduce the root causes of food insecurity.
“This research not only underscores that the need to fight hunger is tremendous, but also that people are looking for community organizations and brands like HelloFresh to work together to take action to address it,” said Jeffrey Yorzyk, senior director of sustainability at Hello Fresh, in a statement. “Hunger never sleeps so we are committed to continuing our fight against hunger, through the holidays and every day after, alongside our valued partners and customers.”
The company said it established its “Meals with Meaning” program in 2020 to provide meal kits and recipes to those in need living in areas where Hello Fresh has distribution centers. Since its inception, the program has provided more than 6 million meals to experiencing food insecurity in Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, New York City, Newark, and Phoenix.