In 2004, 13 percent of American rural households were "food insecure," meaning that at some point during the year they did not have access to enough food for all household members, and 4 percent of rural households experienced hunger. The Food Stamp and the National School Lunch programs play a vital role in helping poor, rural Americans obtain a more nutritious diet and alleviate food insecurity and hunger.
Congress is currently debating the 2007 Farm Bill. One of the provisions in that bill addresses domestic food and nutrition assistance and includes reauthorization of the Food Stamp Program and the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, among others. The Food Stamp Program is a central component of the nation's policy to alleviate hunger and poverty and helps low-income families and individuals purchase a nutritionally adequate diet. The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to elementary, middle, and high school children in participating schools, and is administered by each state's National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, which are funded under the Child Nutrition Act.
This fact sheet looks at the extent to which rural America depends on food stamps and free or reduced price lunches, and describes characteristics of beneficiaries of these federal nutrition assistance programs.