U.S. food insecurity declined again in 2019, bringing the total below 2007 levels, according to an annual report released in early September by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Last year, 10.5% of U.S. households (13.7 million) experienced low or very low food security. This is down from 11.1% in 2018 (which equaled pre-recession levels).
Of this total, 4.1% had very low food security (down from 4.3% in 2018), while 6.4% had low food security (down from 6.8% in 2018).
Low food security means a household had “food acquisition problems and reduced diet quality, but typically have reported fewer, if any, indications of reduced food intake.”
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.”
Among households with children, 6.5% (2.4 million) were food insecure – down slightly from 2018 levels (7.1%). Of this total, 0.6% (213,000) experienced very low food security – unchanged from the year prior.
In households with very low food security, 97% worried about insufficient funds to purchase food, 97% said adults reduced meal size to ensure children had enough to eat, 96% reported they ran out of food, and 69% indicated they felt hungry but didn’t eat due to lack of funds.
“Readers should note that these are 2019 statistics collected in December 2019 and do not reflect the potential impacts of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic that began in 2020,” the USDA said.
The prior year’s data is released each September. A news brief on the 2018 data is available here.
While the September 2021 USDA report will reveal the impact of the pandemic on food security in the U.S., recent reports have begun to give some indications of the effects.
An August USDA report projects an 11% increase in global food insecurity, while an early September report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights growing inequalities, including households without sufficient food, due to the pandemic.