A recent poll commissioned by No Kid Hungry Florida reveals we don’t have to look very far to see firsthand the adversities families face everyday in the state of Florida.
Affording food has gotten much harder. We’ve all been witnesses to the financial hardship inflation has caused, and the numbers back that up: More than three-quarters of Floridians expressed it was harder to buy food now than just 12 months ago due to the rising costs of food and other essentials.
“I am a single mom on a low income. I am struggling to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table. Some days I skip meals because my kids might want seconds,” said one Miami-Dade area resident and Florida Hunger Survey respondent.
Parents are really struggling. Nearly half of parents with children in Florida’s public schools reported experiencing one or more symptoms of food insecurity in the past year, with a full quarter saying they worried they wouldn’t have enough food for their household. This has forced many to make difficult decisions like whether to buy healthy food for their family or pay their bills on time.
“I have had to tell my child ‘no, I can’t afford that right now’ when he wanted to buy more vegetables and fruit. We eat far more boxed dinners than I am comfortable with because everything got more expensive. I have gone hungry recently so my child didn’t have to,” shared another respondent in Hillsborough County.
Many families are just one unexpected event away from hunger. The thought of an unexpected car repair or medical bill is a significant fear for many of our Floridian families. If faced with an unexpected $1,500 expense, seventy-one percent of parents said they would worry about their ability to buy groceries for their household.
Even middle-income, working parents are facing hardship. More than one-third of those making $50,000-$100,000 reported facing food insecurity in the past year. Many of these families make too much to qualify for assistance through free or reduced-price meals or SNAP.
These numbers tell us that we all have a neighbor, a colleague or a friend struggling feed their family. With the rising cost of food and other essentials there are so many working parents skipping meals so their children can eat, or living just one emergency or unexpected expense away from hunger.
They also reinforce the urgency of addressing childhood hunger in our state. An overwhelming majority of Floridians agreed that ending childhood hunger should be a top priority for the state’s elected officials, and nearly all agreed ending child hunger should be a bipartisan issue.
Fortunately, at No Kid Hungry we know that hunger is a problem we can solve together. We know what works, and we’ve already made extraordinary progress. By expanding access to school meals and other federal nutrition programs, we can ensure kids have the nutrition they need to thrive in the classroom, and beyond.