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One in five households with children were food insecure at some time in 2014

Thursday, January 14, 2016

In 2014, 19.2 percent of households with children were food insecure at some time during the year. Parents often are able to maintain normal or near-normal diets and meal patterns for their children, even when the parents themselves are food insecure. In about half of food-insecure households with children in 2014, only adults were food insecure (9.8 percent of households with children); in the rest, children were also food insecure. Thus, both children and adults were food insecure in 9.4 percent of households with children (3.7 million households). In 1.1 percent of households with children (422,000 households), food insecurity among children was so severe that caregivers reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food. In some households with very low food security among children, only older children may have experienced the more severe effects of food insecurity while younger children were protected from those effects. This chart appears in the ERS report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2014.

Editor's Pick 2015, #3:<br>Single-mother households consistently have higher rates of food insecurity than other households with children

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In 2014, 14.0 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. These food-insecure households had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. During the Great Recession and its aftermath, the prevalence of food insecurity rose from 11.1 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent in 2011, before falling as the economy improved and unemployment declined. Food insecurity rates for single-parent households are substantially higher than the national average, especially for single-mother households. In 2014, 35.3 percent of single-mother households and 21.7 percent of single-father households in the United States were food insecure. While food insecurity rates for single-father households and married couples with children have fallen over the last few years, the rate for single-mother households remains high. This chart appears in ERS’s Interactive Chart: Food Security Characteristics, released September 9, 2015.

Prevalence of food insecurity varies across the country

Thursday, December 17, 2015

USDA monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households at the national and State levels. Food-insecure households are defined as those that had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Food insecurity rates differ across States due to characteristics of the population, State-level policies, and economic conditions. Estimated prevalence rates of food insecurity during 2012-14 ranged from 8.4 percent in North Dakota to 22.0 percent in Mississippi. Data for 2012-14 were combined to provide more reliable State statistics. The prevalence of food insecurity was higher than the national average of 14.0 percent in 14 States and lower than the national average in 20 States. In the remaining 16 States and the District of Columbia, differences from the national average were not statistically significant. This map appears in ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.

One in four food-insecure households visited food pantries in 2014

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fourteen percent of U.S. households (17.4 million households) were food insecure in 2014, meaning that at some time during the year, these households were unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members due to a lack of resources. For a subset of food-insecure households—households with very low food security—food intake of one or more members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted. Households having trouble putting food on the table may rely on emergency food providers, such as food pantries and emergency kitchens. Food pantries distribute unprepared foods for offsite use. Emergency kitchens (sometimes referred to as soup kitchens) provide individuals with prepared food to eat at the site. In 2014, 5.5 percent of all U.S. households acquired emergency food from a food pantry, and less than 1.0 percent obtained meals from emergency kitchens. Food-insecure households were more likely to use these assistance options; more than one in four food-insecure households (27.1 percent) used food pantries in 2014, while 3.0 percent used emergency kitchens. An estimated 36.7 percent of households with very low food security visited food pantries, and 5.7 percent visited an emergency kitchen. The statistics for this chart are from Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2014, September 2015.

Prevalence of food insecurity varied by household characteristics in 2014

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

While the majority of U.S. households are food secure, a minority experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning their access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by a lack of money or other resources. Some households experience very low food security, a more severe range of food insecurity, where food intake of one or more household members is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted. Food insecurity includes both very low food security and low food security. In 2014, 14.0 percent of all U.S households were food insecure. The prevalence of food insecurity was substantially higher for low-income households; 39.6 percent of households with incomes below the Federal poverty line were food insecure. Among all U.S. households, food insecurity rates were the highest for single-mother households (35.3 percent), and lowest for households with elderly members (8.9 percent). This chart appears in “Commemorating 20 years of U.S. Food Security Measurement” in the October 2015 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Single-mother households consistently have higher rates of food insecurity than other households with children

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In 2014, 14.0 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. These food-insecure households had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. During the Great Recession and its aftermath, the prevalence of food insecurity rose from 11.1 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent in 2011, before falling as the economy improved and unemployment declined. Food insecurity rates for single-parent households are substantially higher than the national average, especially for single-mother households. In 2014, 35.3 percent of single-mother households and 21.7 percent of single-father households in the United States were food insecure. While food insecurity rates for single-father households and married couples with children have fallen over the last few years, the rate for single-mother households remains high. This chart appears in ERS’s Interactive Chart: Food Security Characteristics, released September 9, 2015.

Prevalence of food insecurity in 2014 was essentially unchanged from 2013 and 2012, down from 2011

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In 2014, 86.0 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.0 percent (17.4 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. While food insecurity has declined from 14.9 percent in 2011, the percent of U.S. households that were food insecure remained essentially unchanged in 2013 and 2014, despite a falling unemployment rate in those years. Higher inflation, especially higher food prices, and the end of increased food assistance benefits from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, strained low-income households’ food budgets and offset the effect of lower unemployment. In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security, essentially unchanged from 2012 and 2013. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. This chart appears in Household Food Security in the United States in 2014, ERR-194, released September 9, 2015.

In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

USDA measures food security status at the household level. Food-insecure households were, at times, unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food. Statistics on the number of persons residing in food-insecure households should be interpreted carefully. Within a food-insecure household, different household members may have been affected differently by the household’s food insecurity. Some members—particularly young children—may have experienced only mild effects of food insecurity or none at all, while adults were more severely affected. In 2013, 49.1 million people lived in food-insecure households and 17.1 million of these individuals lived in households in the severe range of food insecurity, described as very low food security. Households with very low food security are those that were food insecure to the extent that eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and their food intake reduced at some during the year. The statistics for this chart are from Household Food Security in the United States in 2013: Statistical Supplement, AP-066, released on September 3, 2014.

One in five U.S. households with children were food-insecure at some time in 2013

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In 2013, 19.5 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure at some time during the year. Parents often are able to maintain normal or near-normal diets and meal patterns for their children, even when the parents themselves are food insecure. In about half of food-insecure households with children in 2013, only adults were food insecure. But in 9.9 percent of households with children (3.8 million households) both children and adults experienced food insecurity. In 0.9 percent of households with children (360,000 households), food insecurity among children was so severe that caregivers reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food. The subset of households with children experiencing these difficult conditions was down from 1.2 percent in 2012. This chart appears in Household Food Security in the United States in 2013, ERR-173, released September 3, 2014.

The prevalence of food insecurity in the U.S. declined from 2011 to 2013

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In 2013, 14.3 percent (17.5 million) of U.S. households were food insecure. Households that are food insecure had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure remained essentially unchanged from 2012 to 2013; however, the cumulative decline from 14.9 percent in 2011 was statistically significant. In 2013, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.8 million households) had very low food security, essentially unchanged from 2011 and 2012. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. This chart appears in Household Food Security in the United States in 2013, ERR-173, released September 3, 2014.

Inflation, including higher food prices, left food insecurity rates unchanged in 2012

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

USDA monitors the food security of the Nation’s households—their consistent access to adequate food for active healthy lives—through an annual survey. During the 2007-09 recession, food insecurity increased from 11.1 percent of U.S. households in 2007 to 14.6 percent in 2008, and remained near that level through 2012. Since the end of the recession, unemployment rates have fallen, leading researchers to question why food security has not improved with employment. A recent ERS study of the associations of food insecurity with household characteristics and national economic conditions over 2001-12 estimated that declines in the highest monthly unemployment rate, from 10.0 percent in 2009-10 to 8.3 percent in 2012, would have reduced food insecurity by 0.9 percentage point. However, higher annual inflation and larger increases in food prices relative to other goods and services are estimated to have increased the prevalence of food insecurity by 1.1 percentage points. Most of the year-to-year variation in the national prevalence of household food insecurity was associated with changes in these three national economic indicators. The predicted prevalence of food insecurity in 2012 was 14.7 percent, nearly the same as the observed prevalence of 14.5 percent. The statistics in this chart are from the ERS report, Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food, released on June 20, 2014.

Prevalence of very low food security rose in most States from 2002 to 2012

Monday, May 12, 2014

From 2000-02 to 2010-12, the percentage of households with very low food security increased in all but seven States, reflecting the tough economic times of the 2007-09 recession and its lingering effects. Food security is defined as “very low” when the food intake of some household members is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted at times during the year because of limited resources. The prevalence of very low food security in 2010-12 (data for 3 years were combined to provide more reliable State-level statistics) ranged from 3.2 percent in Virginia to 8.1 percent in Arkansas, with an average of 5.6 percent across all States. From 2000-02 to 2010-12, increases in very low food security exceeded 4 percentage points in only Maine and Missouri, raising the prevalence of very low food security in those States to 7.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. The magnitude of change does not necessarily indicate the extent of very low food security in 2010-12, because levels were not uniform across States at the beginning of the decade. The data for this map come from ERS’s Food Environment Atlas.

Prevalence of food insecurity varies by State

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

USDA monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households for the Nation and for States. Food-insecure households had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Prevalence rates of food insecurity varied considerably from State to State. Data for 3 years, 2010-12, were combined to provide more reliable statistics at the State level. Estimated prevalence rates of food insecurity during this 3-year period ranged from 8.7 percent in North Dakota to 20.9 percent in Mississippi. Taking into account margins of error of the State and U.S. estimates, the prevalence of food insecurity was higher than the national average of 14.7 percent in 10 States and lower than the national average in 16 States and the District of Columbia. In the remaining 24 States, differences from the national average were not statistically significant. This map is from the Food Security in the U.S. topic page on the ERS website.

When food insecurity occurs in U.S. households, it is usually recurrent but not chronic

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In 2012, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure some time during the year and 5.7 percent experienced very low food security. Food-insecure households had trouble putting adequate food on the table due to a lack of money and other resources for food. Households in the severe range of food insecurity, described as very low food security, reported reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns. Questions used to assess households’ food security status ask whether a condition, experience, or behavior occurred at any time in the past 12 months, and households can be classified as having very low food security based on a single, severe episode during the year. Households with very low food security at some time during the year experienced the conditions, on average, in 7 months during the year. An estimated 3.3 percent of U.S. households had very low food security during the 30-day period ending in mid-December 2012. Most households that had very low food security at some time during a month experienced the associated conditions in 1 to 7 days of the month. A version of this chart appears in Household Food security in the United States in 2012, September 2013.

Food insecurity among children linked to educational attainment of adult household members

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Most U.S. households with children are food secure, meaning they have consistent, dependable access to adequate food for active, healthy living for all household members. However in 2012, 20 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure at times during the year. In about half of those households, only adults were food insecure, but in 10 percent of households with children, one or more of the children were also food insecure at some time during the year. Food insecurity among children is strongly associated with the educational attainment of adults in the household. For households headed by an adult with less than a high school diploma, the prevalence of food insecurity among children was more than six times as high in 2010-11 as for households headed by an adult with at least a 4-year college degree. This chart appears in Food Insecurity in Households With Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-11, May 2013.

Which American households struggle to put food on the table?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

While most U.S. households are food secure, a minority experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by a 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. In 2012, about 41 percent of U.S. households with incomes below the Federal poverty line were food insecure. Rates of food insecurity and very low food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for single-parent households, and for Black and Hispanic households. Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas. This chart appears in ERS’s data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.

Editor's Pick 2013:<br>How long do food-insecure households remain food insecure?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Knowing how often and how long households are food insecure is important for understanding the extent and character of food insecurity and for maximizing the effectiveness of programs aimed at alleviating it. Food-insecure households are those that are unable, at times during the year, to acquire adequate food because they lack sufficient money and other resources. Two studies commissioned by ERS found spells of food insecurity to be generally of short duration. For example, one study found that half of households that were food insecure at some time during the 5-year study period experienced the condition in just a single year and only 6 percent were food insecure in all 5 years. However, the fact that households move in and out of food insecurity also means that a considerably larger number of households are exposed to food insecurity at some time over a period of several years than are food insecure in any single year. The statistics for this chart are from “Food Insecurity in U.S. Households Rarely Persists Over Many Years” in the June 2013 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine. Originally published on Monday, June 17, 2013.

Editor's Pick 2013:<br>How long do food-insecure households remain food insecure?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Knowing how often and how long households are food insecure is important for understanding the extent and character of food insecurity and for maximizing the effectiveness of programs aimed at alleviating it. Food-insecure households are those that are unable, at times during the year, to acquire adequate food because they lack sufficient money and other resources. Two studies commissioned by ERS found spells of food insecurity to be generally of short duration. For example, one study found that half of households that were food insecure at some time during the 5-year study period experienced the condition in just a single year and only 6 percent were food insecure in all 5 years. However, the fact that households move in and out of food insecurity also means that a considerably larger number of households are exposed to food insecurity at some time over a period of several years than are food insecure in any single year. The statistics for this chart are from “Food Insecurity in U.S. Households Rarely Persists Over Many Years” in the June 2013 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine. Originally published on Monday, June 17, 2013.

What is "very low food security"?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Household food security statistics published annually by ERS are based on responses to survey questions about conditions and behaviors that characterize households when they are having difficulty meeting basic food needs. In households classified as having “very low food security,” the food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. In 2012, the 7 million households with very low food security reported the following specific conditions (along with other conditions): 96 percent reported that they had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food, 95 percent reported that they had eaten less than they felt they should because there was not enough money for food, and 68 percent reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food. This chart is drawn from a chart that appears in Household Food Security in the United States in 2012, ERR-155.

One-quarter of food-insecure households visited food pantries in 2012

Friday, September 27, 2013

Households having trouble putting adequate food on the table may rely on emergency food providers. About 5 percent of U.S. households acquired emergency food from a food pantry in 2012, and less than 1 percent obtained meals from emergency kitchens. Food-insecure households were more likely to use these assistance options. Food-insecure households are households that were, at times, unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food. One-quarter of food-insecure households used food pantries and 3.1 percent used emergency kitchens. An estimated 36 percent of households with very low food security visited food pantries and 5.7 percent visited emergency kitchens. Households with very low food security are those that were food insecure to the extent that eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and their food intake reduced at some point during the year. The statistics for this chart are from the Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2012, AP-061, released on September 4, 2013.

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