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U.S. Food Insecurity Declines Again; Millions Remain Insecure

U.S. food insecurity declined again in 2017, yet millions of households remain food insecure, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released Sept. 5.

Food insecurity is when “access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources,” according to the USDA.

Very low food security means “food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources.”

There were 15 million (11.8 percent) food-insecure households in 2017, down from 15.6 million (12.3 percent) in 2016.

This continues a six-year downward trend, dropping from a high of 14.9 percent (17.9 million) food-insecure households in 2011, but still remaining above the 11.1 percent (13 million) of 2007 households before the “Great Recession.”

Households facing very low food security also declined in 2017, moving from 4.9 percent (6.1 million) in 2016 to 4.5 percent (5.8 million).

Strong majorities of adults in low food security households reported they “could not afford to eat balanced meals” and “had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food.”

Among U.S. households with children, 15.7 percent (6 million) were food insecure last year, down slightly from 16.5 percent (6.3 million) in 2016.

Rates varied from state to state, with Hawaii having the lowest food insecurity rate (7.4 percent) and New Mexico having the highest (17.9 percent).

Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia all had rates above the national average.

“Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average for the following groups: households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, all households with children and particularly households with children headed by single women or single men, women and men living alone, Black- and Hispanic-headed households, and households in principal cities and nonmetropolitan areas,” the report stated.

The full report is available here.