December 23, 2008 / 6:26 PM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: Food aid programs struggle with surging demand

(Reuters) - Long lines are common sights these days at food pantries across the recession-hit United States. Food banks reported a 30 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance from a year ago, according to a report issued last on Thursday by Feeding America. The group is calling on Washington for help.

The following are a few facts about food assistance programs in the United States based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census Bureau and Feeding America, the nation’s largest food assistance organization.

* More than 25 million Americans access emergency food assistance annually, including more than 9 million children.

* The top six U.S. states for such households in 2005-2007 were Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine and Missouri.

* Feeding America said its December survey of food assistance groups found 72 percent of them were not able to adequately meet the needs of their communities.

* Forty percent of low-income Americans, which would include a family of four earning less than $39,200 a year, surveyed reported they had to choose between buying food and paying for utilities in the past year.

* U.S. food stamp benefits are available for households with net incomes less than $30,000 for a family of four.

Reporting by Carey Gillam

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