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.
Federal expenditures for USDA's 15 food and nutrition assistance programs totaled $92.4 billion in fiscal 2019, or 5 percent less than the previous fiscal year. This was almost 22 percent less than the inflation-adjusted historical high of $117.9 billion set in fiscal 2013. Expenditures decreased by 8 percent for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and by 6 percent for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019. Expenditures for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program each increased between 2 and 3 percent.