Food Security and Nutrition Assistance
ERS monitors the food security of U.S. households through an annual, nationally representative survey. While most U.S. households are food secure, a minority of U.S. households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by lack of money and other resources. Some experience very low food security, a more severe range of food insecurity where food intake of one or more members is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted. Reliable monitoring of food security contributes to the effective operation of USDA’s 15 food and nutrition assistance programs aimed at reducing food insecurity.
In fiscal 2015, children accounted for 44.0 percent of all SNAP participants, nearly the same as in fiscal 2014 (44.2 percent). Children younger than five made up 13.5 percent of participants in fiscal 2015, down from 13.9 percent the prior year. Adults age 18-59 represented 45.4 percent of SNAP participants in fiscal 2015, compared with 45.7 percent in fiscal 2014. Adults age 60 and older's share of the SNAP caseload grew from 10.1 percent in fiscal 2014 to 10.6 percent in fiscal 2015.
In fiscal 2016, SNAP served an average of 44.2 million people per month, or 13.7 percent of Americans. Southeastern States have a particularly high share of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 15 to 19.5 percent. In fiscal 2016, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, and New Hampshire were the only States with 8 percent or less of their populations receiving SNAP benefits.