Even beyond the obvious physical and mental costs of food insecurity and the incalculable toll on the stability and dignity of families across the United States, there is also a tremendous economic cost. Health care needs of people who are food insecure are higher due to increased incidence and severity of disease. Health outcomes are also worse, reducing productivity and lifetime earnings. In addition, education expenses are higher, with a greater need for intervention such as special education. Achievement levels (and, hence, lifetime earnings) are negatively affected. These costs multiply as they work their way through the business complex and are largely borne by the whole of society. The Perryman Group estimates that hunger costs the US economy $461.9 billion in total expenditures and $221.9 billion in gross product each year as well as nearly 2.5 million permanent jobs on an ongoing basis.
Tens of millions of Americans do not have enough food to meet basic daily needs, which is nothing short of tragic. Every year that this problem is allowed to persist literally saps trillions of dollars in long-term economic potential from the United States. This infographic summarizes the findings in our report, Hunger: Economic Perspectives, Sustainable Solutions.
Dr. Perryman describes the broader economic impacts of hunger in light of the pandemic.
The administration issues new guidelines for SNAP, a supplemental nutrition assistance program that used to be known as food stamps, and Dr. Perryman calls it short-sighted.
New rules restricting access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are going to cause hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose benefits. Even beyond the obvious physical and mental costs of food insecurity and the incalculable toll on the stability and dignity of families around the country, there is also a significant economic cost. Our analysis found that it will lead to losses of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs.