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1 in 5 Americans struggling to put food on the table

The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd talks about the financial collapse which took the U.S. by surprise in 2008 and reports on how the economy is faring today.

By Jeff Black, Staff Writer, NBC News
Many Americans are still struggling to put food on the table, a full four years after the global recession ended, a new poll by Gallup shows.

Indeed 20 percent of people polled last month said that they sometimes didn’t have enough money to buy food for themselves or their family, the highest percentage since 2011.

The poll indicates that Americans' ability to afford food has yet to recover to the levels seen in 2008, when the United States was in one of deepest economic slumps since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The percentage of Americans going hungry peaked at 20.4 percent in November 2008 during the global economic crisis, according to Gallup's poll.

Before the economic recession of 2007-2009, fewer than 17 percent of the people surveyed reported having trouble paying food bills.

"These findings suggest that the economic recovery may be disproportionately benefiting upper-income Americans rather than those who are struggling to fulfill their basic needs," the national polling company said.

The results, part of what is called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of nearly 16,000 adults aged 18 and older in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Stagnant wages are indicated as one possible reason Americans have been unable to afford food and other basic needs.

The federal government's annual "Food Security" report, released last week, found that 14.5 percent of American households, or 17.6 million families, "had difficulty at some time" in getting enough food to eat during 2012. That means if they ran out of food, didn't have money to buy enough it, they skipped meals or lost weight for lack of food.

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