Most U.S. households have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living—they are food secure. But a minority of American households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.
Food insecurity exists in every state, city and community in the U.S. The statistics can seem almost unbelievable.
Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security
- In 2014, 49.1 million American lived in food insecure households.
- In 2014, 14.3 percent of households (17.5 million households) were food insecure at some time during 2014. Essentially unchanged from 14.5 percent in 2012.
- 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children
Food Insecurity by Household Characteristics
The prevalence of food insecurity varied considerably among household types. Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average (14.3 percent) for the following groups:
- All households with children (19.5 percent)
- Households with children under age 6 (20.9 percent)
- Households with children headed by a single woman (34.4 percent)
- Households with children headed by a single man (23.1 percent)
- Black, non-Hispanic households (26.1 percent)
- Hispanic households (23.7 percent)
- Low-income households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (34.8 percent; the Federal poverty line was $23,624 for a family of four in 2013)
Food Insecure Households: Household Spending Tradeoffs in the Past Year
- 69% had to choose between food and utilities
- 67% had to choose between food and transportation
- 66% had to choose between food and medical care
- 57% had to choose between food and housing
- 31% had to choose between food and education
Key survey findings include the following:
- 91% of Americans are committed to the principle that no one should go hungry in the U.S.
- 89% believe hunger impacts the physical development of infants/toddlers
- 53% believe that children often eat cheap, unhealthy foods so families can pay rent
- 51% believe that seniors often have to choose between paying for medical prescriptions or food
- 54% of Americans say more should be spent to address hunger compared to other problems
- 73% see a major hunger relief role for the federal government
- 80% see a major role for local organizations/leaders
Food Insecure Households: 55% of Households Reported Using 3 or More Coping Strategies in the Past Year
- 79% purchased inexpensive, unhealthy food
- 53% receive help from friends & family
- 40% water down food or drinks
- 35% sell or pawn personal property
- 23% grow food in a garden