Study: Americans struggle to afford basic personal care items, household goods

CHICAGO — Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization, along with long-standing donor partner Procter and Gamble, revealed results of a new study showing many families with children struggle to afford basic, non-food household goods, including products related to personal care, household care and baby care.

The results come just as the United States Department of Agriculture reports that 49 million people in the United States, including nearly 16 million children, live at risk of hunger. However, until now, there has been a lack of information about the struggle to obtain other essential household goods.

The nationally representative survey conducted for this study found that one-in-three (34%) low-income families found it difficult to afford basic household necessities in the past year. Of these families, 82% live in households with low or very low food security, meaning that they cannot afford enough food for their household members. Additionally, nearly three-in-four (73%) low-income families have cut back on food in the past year in order to afford household goods. Of these, one-in-four (24%) report doing so each month.

According to the report, titled "In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials," in order to make ends meet, families utilize a variety of coping strategies when they are unable to afford personal care and household care items. These include using less, substituting, borrowing and doing without. Some of these strategies, like altering eating habits to afford non-food items or delaying hygiene habits, raise concerns about potential risks to the health and well-being of many families with children.

"During Hunger Action Month in September, we are reminded that one-in-six 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," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. "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."

"This study demonstrates the importance American families place on personal and household care items in their lives," said Brian Sasson, manager of social investments at Procter & Gamble. "Over the past 30 years we have been proud to contribute funds and donate P&G products to the Feeding America network of food banks to help ease the burden for some of these families in need."

To read more about "In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials," including methodology, click here.


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