FRC News

FRC researchers contribute to nationwide study revealing families' struggle to afford household goods

9/23/2013  8:00 am

A new study released by Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, reveals that many families with children struggle to afford basic, non-food household goods, including products related to personal care, household care and baby care. As a result, these families often make trade-offs with other living expenses and employ coping strategies in an effort to secure essential household items. The study was made possible by Procter & Gamble, a long-standing donor and Feeding America partner.

According to the US Department of Agriculture. 49 million Americans live at risk of hunger, but until now, there was a lack of information about the struggle to obtain other essential household goods. In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials found that one in three low-income families had a hard time affording basic household necessities in the past year. Of these families, 82 percent live in households with low or very low food security, meaning they cannot afford enough food for their household members. Additionally, nearly three in four (73 percent) low-income families have cut back on food in the past year in order to afford household goods.

The Family Resiliency Center contributed to the study by conducting in-depth interviews with foodbank clients about which household products are essential, strategies to obtain the products, and the consequences of going without the products. The results of the FRC interviews were then used to design a larger, nationally representative phone survey, as well as help food banks assess their clients’ concerns regarding household products’ needs.

“Many of the projects conducted at FRC start with considering the real-life experiences of families who face daily challenges such as going without sufficient amounts of food,” noted FRC Director and Pampered Chef Endowed Chair Barbara Fiese. “These interviews shed light on the often complicated decisions that families have to make in balancing the need to feed their children, purchase household supplies for healthy living, and pay for medical expenses. Clearly these are not easy decisions and ones that can have serious consequences for multiple members of the household.”

According to Feeding America CEO Bob Aiken, 1 in 6 Americans struggles with hunger, but we often don’t think about the additional hardship and emotional toll placed on these families who are unable to afford personal hygiene and basic household items. “The lack of everyday essentials, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, soap or disposable diapers, may compromise the health and well-being of our at-risk neighbors, especially those who face food insecurity. The difficulty within American households to afford these necessities underscores the need for institutions to work together in an effort to help low-income families address their basic needs.”