USDA report: Food insecurity in America

September 7, 2011

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the results of its 2010 Household Food Security in the United States report that found that 17.2 million American households had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources. However, the percentage of very low food security declined from 5.7% of households in 2009 to 5.4% in 2010.

“This report underscores the critical role that federal nutrition assistance programs play in helping struggling American families put food on the table until they can get back on their feet,” said Kevin Concannon, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Under Secretary. “Many families receive assistance not because they want to, but because they need it as a last resort to make ends meet. As the economy continues to recover and jobs are created, we hope to see the number of families in need of nutrition assistance shrink.”

The report indicates that 59% of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest nutrition assistance programs near the time of the survey. In fiscal year 2010 (Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010), these programs provided much needed food assistance to millions of individuals, children, and families in need:

  • In an average month, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provided benefits to 40.3 million people in the United States.
  • The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provided meals to an average of 31.6 million children each school day.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) served an average 9.2 million participants per month.

Food insecurity rates were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the current federal poverty line ($22,350 for a family of four), households with children headed by single women or single men, and black and Hispanic households. Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas and other outlying areas around large cities.

Press release