According to the US Department of Agriculture, the US food supply system is the most varied and abundant in the world. Food losses occur throughout the entire food system.
50.2 Million People Living in Food Insecure Households
Of the 50.2 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007), 33.0 million are adults (14.5 percent of all adults) and 17.2 million are children (23.2 percent of all children).
17.7 Million People Have “Very Low Food Security”
17.7 million people lived in households that were considered to have “very low food security,” a USDA term (previously denominated “food insecure with hunger”) that means one or more people in the household were hungry over the course of the year because of the inability to afford enough food. This was up from 11.9 million in 2007 and 8.5 million in 2000.
Very low food security had been getting worse even before the recession. The number of people in this category in 2009 is more than double the number in 2000.
Black (24.9 percent) and Hispanic (26.9 percent) households experienced food insecurity at far higher rates than the national average.
85% of American Households were Food Secure Throughout 2009
According to USDA reporting, 85% of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2009, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.7 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent with very low food security.
Food Insecurity Remained at the Highest Recorded Levels Since 1995
In 2009, households with very low food security, (the food intake of one or more household members) were reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were essentially unchanged from 14.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively, in 2008, and remained at the highest recorded levels since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted.
Food Secure Households Spent 33% More on Food
The typical food-secure household spent 33 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Fifty-seven percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month prior to the 2009 survey.
4.2 Million Households with Children were Food Insecure
Children were food insecure at times during the year in 4.2 million households (10.6 percent of households with children). Although children are usually shielded from disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake, children along with adults experienced instances of very low food security in 469,000 households (1.2 percent of households with children in 2009, essentially unchanged from 1.3 percent in 2008.
Many More Experience Food Insecurity than the Numbers Show
On a given day, the number of households with very low food security was a small fraction of the number that experienced this condition “at some time during the year.” Typically, households classified as having very low food security experienced the condition in 7 months of the year, for a few days in each of those months.
Miscellaneous Food Insecurity Statistics & Demographics
Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents, and among Black and Hispanic households.
Food insecurity was more common in large cities than in rural areas and in suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities.