The poll, sponsored by Generations United and conducted by Harris Interactive, also found 1-in-10 U.S. adults went without a basic need -- food, medicine, or healthcare -- in order to provide food for another family member.
"Before conducting the survey, we knew that the incidence of hunger had been rising in the years since the economic downturn. Nevertheless, we were disturbed to learn that so many adults are being forced to choose between eating or buying medicine," James Taylor, a member of Generations United's board of directors, said at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday.
"People should never have to choose between such basic needs. Nor should they have to worry that someone close to them lacks access to nutritious food."
The survey also found 70 percent of U.S. adults agreed policymakers should prevent cuts to existing federal food assistance programs for children, youth and older adults.
The poll of 2,397 U.S. adults was conducted Sept. 24-26 via the Harris Poll QuickQuery online omnibus service -- 303 respondents from this survey sought or received food assistance in the past 12 months.
Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income and age of children in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. No margin of error was provided.