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US Food Insecurity Drops; Over 14M Households Still Insecure

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Food insecurity in the U.S. declined in 2018 to pre-recession (2007) levels, according to a Department of Agriculture (USDA) report published Sept. 4.

Even so, 11.1% of households (14.3 million) remained food insecure. This is a slight reduction from 11.8% of households in 2017.

Of these 14.3 million households, 6.8% (8.7 million) had low food security, meaning they “had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources.”

This is a 0.5% reduction from 2017.

The remaining 4.3 percent (5.6 million) had very low food security, which means that 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 is down slightly from 4.5% last year.

Food insecurity was highest in New Mexico (16.8% of households) and lowest in New Hampshire (7.8%) from 2016-2018.

Among U.S. households with children, 13.9% were food insecure in 2018, down from 15.9% in 2017.

In 7.1% of these households, both adults and children were food insecure, with 6.5% of children having low food security, and the remaining 0.6% having “food insecurity … 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.”

Both low food security and very low food security households reported high levels of worry about food running out, of instances where food did run out, and of times when a balanced meal could not be provided.

Very low food security households were significantly more likely than low food security households to report times when they reduced their meal portions or skipped eating, ate less than they felt like they should, were hungry but didn’t eat, lost weight and didn’t eat for a whole day.

The full report is available here. A summary is available here.