Many are skipping meals, eating less to cope with economy. Statewide poll finds that 27% believe that
‘a lot’ of Alabama families are going without.

AUBURN (August 24, 2009) Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services released more statewide polling results today, this time revealing that many Alabama residents could be going hungry because of the prolonged recession. A statewide survey of adults found that 27 percent believe that “a lot” of Alabama families are cutting the size of meals or are skipping mealtime altogether because of financial considerations. Another 36 percent said that “a fair number” of other families could be doing the same. Only one-third of those surveyed feel that eating have been generally unaffected by the economy.

“We didn’t ask people directly whether they themselves have cut back,” said AU pollster David Hill. “Many individuals we poll may be too proud and reluctant to tell an interviewer bluntly that they are going hungry. So we ask the question indirectly, inquiring about families in general. This provides us a sense of what people are hearing from friends, neighbors, and others in their communities.”

The economy’s effect on hunger is likely to be concentrated among the state’s have-nots, those with the least income. “Of those poll respondents that reported annual household incomes of less than 20 thousand dollars, 51 percent said “a lot” of families are eating less,” said poll analyst Patrick Rose. By comparison, only 8 percent of those with the highest household incomes, $150 thousand plus annually, believe a lot of Alabama families are cutting back.

The AU polling staff found that awareness of meal cutbacks was greatest in the southwest and southeast corners of the state, and among African Americans. Educational attainment was also a strong factor in perceptions of hunger. Almost eighty percent of adults with only a grade-school education say that “a lot” of Alabama families are eating less because of the economy.

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