AUSTIN, Minn. — Twenty-eight percent of Americans who were surveyed said during the past year, they or someone they know had to choose between providing food for their family or paying their bills. One in 10 said they went to bed hungry at least once in the past year. These facts and more are revealed in The 2010 Hormel Hunger Survey released Nov. 15 by Hormel Foods Corporation.

Americans who are very concerned about the number of people in the US who do not have enough to eat increased from 46% in 2009 to 54% this year, suggesting consumers are aware of the personal toll the recession has been taking on many Americans.

In Hormel’s fifth annual study on hunger, 52% of Americans said their ability to pay their bills has not changed in the past year. However, five times as many say it has become more difficult to pay bills (38%) than said it has become easier (8%) compared to a year ago.

Approximately nine out of 10 Americans have been forced to spend more carefully these days, including almost one in five (18%) who say they are struggling to pay essential bills or cannot pay those bills without borrowing. Only about one in 10 Americans say they do not have to worry much about how they spend their money.

Regarding fresh-food options, most surveyed said having large grocery stores where only small stores with limited choices are currently available would have a beneficial effect on six social problems, especially reducing malnutrition (71%) and hunger (69%). Other problems most believe would be alleviated include the cost of healthcare (58%), obesity (53%), reduced life expectancy (60%) and low school test scores (56%).

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 2.3 million Americans live more than a mile from a supermarket that offers many food choices and do not have access to a vehicle to get there. Despite this demonstrated commitment to eradicating hunger, 61% of those surveyed do not think the hunger problem in the US will be solved in the next 20 years.

Ninety-one percent of those surveyed agree reducing the number of hungry children benefits US communities. Seventy-eight percent agree in the free-market economy, and feel the government should ensure every American has enough to eat.

Seventy percent agree the hungry in the US are in this position due to circumstances beyond their control. As part of the company’s commitment to hunger causes, Hormel Foods donated more than 480,000 lbs. of protein to various charitable organizations during the past year.

The 2010 Hormel Hunger Survey was a telephone survey conducted Oct. 15-18, 2010 by Opinion Research Corp. The random sample included 1,013 American adults and the margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Hormel Foods acknowledges Jean Kinsey, a professor emeritus of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, and director emeritus of The Food Industry Center, for her input.