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U.S. Food Insecurity

Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table at some point during the year. According to new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data released on September 6, 2011, 14.5 percent of American households – or nearly 49 million Americans suffered from food insecurity in 2010. The 2010 numbers are virtually unchanged from those of 2009 and 2008 – both years have amongst the highest levels of food insecurity since data was first collected in 1995. That the 2010 figures did not rise sharply over the 2009 levels was due largely to several key safety net programs, which helped ensure that even more people did not go hungry in the midst of widespread unemployment and a struggling economy.

Nearly 49 million Americans live in households that experienced food insecurity last year, including 21.6 percent of U.S. children — more than one in five.

Certain groups experience food insecurity at far higher rates than the rest of the U.S. population.  According to USDA, the rate of household and child food insecurity among African-Americans and Hispanics is more than twice as high as that of whites.

Household and Child Food Insecurity by Race

Group

Percentage of household food insecurity

Percentage of child food insecurity

White, non-Hispanic

10.8%

14.4%

Black, non-Hispanic

25.1%

32.9%

Hispanic

26.2%

30.6%

The states with the highest rates of food insecurity were concentrated primarily in the south and southwest, with a few exceptions such as Ohio.

States with Food Insecurity Rates Above the National Average

State

Rate of Food Insecurity

Mississippi

19.4%

Texas

18.8%

Arkansas

18.6%

Alabama

17.3%

Georgia

16.9%

Ohio

16.4%

Florida

16.1%

California

15.9%

North Carolina

15.7

 Find out how you can help bring these numbers down.

For more information, see Bread for the World’s press release on the USDA food insecurity data released September 7, 2011.

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