Empty pantry: The Scary Truth About Food Insecurity
Providing sustenance for oneself and one’s family is anyone’s biggest priority for survival, but for millions of Americans, that’s a major challenge. More than 17 million people in the United States were “food-insecure” at some point in 2010, meaning they had trouble getting enough food for themselves and members of their family. Who is going hungry and what do their struggles mean for the nation?
Food insecurity rates have risen
The prevalence of food insecurity dipped slightly from 2009 to 2010, but remains elevated compared to previous years.
- Percent of households that were food-insecure (1998-2010)
1998 - 11.8%.
1999 - 10.1%.
2000 - 10.5%.
2001 - 10.7%.
2002 - 11.1%.
2003 - 11.2%.
2004 - 11.9%.
2005 - 11%.
2006 - 10.9%
2007 - 11.1%.
2008 - 14,6%.
2009 - 14.7%.
2010 - 14.5%.
14,5 percent or about 1 in 7 U.S. households were food-insecure at some time during 200. Of those 9.1% had low food security, 5.4% had very low food security.
Food security spectrum
To define "food insecurity", we must look at the complete range of Americans' access to food
- Secure - insecure
High. No problems or limitations with access to food.
Marginal. One or two reports of food access problems. No change in diet or food intake.
Low. Indications of reduced variety and quality of diet, with little or no reports of hunger.
Very low. Reports of multiple instances of disrupted eating patterns and hunger.
Reasons for food insecurity
The vast majority of food-insecure Americans worry that their food supply will run out.
- Reasons households have reported food insecurity (percent of households)
Worried food would run out (low - 92%, very low - 99%).
Food bought did not last (low - 80%, very low - 96%).
Could not afford balanced meal (low - 75%, very low - 94%).
Cut size of meal or skipped meal (low - 37%, very low - 96%).
Ate less than they left they should (low - 39%, very low - 95%).
Hungry but did not eat (low - 9%, very low - 66%).
Lost weight (low - 5%, very low - 45%).
Did not eat the whole day (low - 1%, very low - 29%).
State by state
Prevalence of food-insecure households (map).
7%-9.9%, 10%-12.9%, 13%-15.9%, 16%-18.9%, 19%-21.9%.
U.S. average - 14.6%.
Who is most affected?
Prevalence of food insecurity in each group.
Female mother, no spouse - 35%.
Has children under the age of 6 - 22%.
Male living alone - 15%.
White - 11%.
Other - 13%.
Black - 25%.
Hispanic - 26%.
- Household income-to poverty ratio
The ratio of income to poverty is a family's or person's income divided by their poverty threshold. Ratios below 1.00 indicate that income is below the official poverty definition, while ratios 100 or greater represents income that is above the poverty level.
Under 1.00 - 40.2%.
Under 1.30 - 37.6%.
Under 1.85 - 33.8%.
1.85 and over - 7.4%.
- Area of residence
Inside metro areas - 14.5%.
Outside metro areas - 14.7%.
SOURCES: USDA GOV, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
A COLLABORATION BETWEEN GOOD AND COLUMN FIVE