More than one in four (28 percent) Americans say that in the past year they or someone they know has had to choose between providing food for their family or paying bills, and one in 10 Americans say they personally went to bed hungry at least once in the past year. These and other surprising figures were revealed in The 2010 Hormel Hunger Survey, released by Hormel Foods Corporation.

The percentage of Americans who are very concerned about the number of people in the United States who do not have enough to eat rose from 46 percent in 2009 to 54 percent this year, suggesting that consumers are aware of the recession’s personal toll on many Americans.

"It is a tragedy that people around the world and in our country still suffer from hunger," says Julie Craven, vice president of corporate communications at Hormel Foods. "We hope this survey provides facts about hunger and makes clear that it is still a problem both in the United States and abroad."

In this fifth annual study on hunger, 57 percent of Americans say if they would qualify for food aid, they would apply to get it. Thirty-eight percent, however, said they would not apply citing reasons such as "I do not want a government handout," "I would be embarrassed to use the benefits," and "I do not know how to apply."

Regarding fresh food options, a majority of Americans said having large grocery stores versus small stores with limited choices would have a beneficial effect on six social problems, especially in reducing malnutrition (71 percent) and hunger (69 percent).

About 65 percent of Americans have donated food to a food bank or other food collection charity in the past year, and 57 percent have donated money. Twenty-three percent have volunteered their time to a group providing food to the hungry in the past year.

Long term, 61 percent of those surveyed don’t think the hunger problem in the United States will be solved in the next 20 years. That is disheartening to see, says Jean Kinsey, a professor emeritus of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, and director emeritus of The Food Industry Center. "However, Americans and U.S. companies are still working hard to end hunger despite this belief, and their commitment will help solve the problem."

The survey also uncovered attitudes toward hunger abroad, including more than 84 percent of respondents agree that growing hunger around the world is linked to political unrest.

Hormel Foods has donated more than 480,000 pounds of protein to various charitable organizations during the past year to help address the hunger issue. You can find more on the survey here.

Source: Hormel Foods