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Report Outlines Food Insecurity in America

Report Outlines Food Insecurity in America

Nutrition assistance programs play large role as U.S. economy recovers from recession.

USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon released the results of USDA's Household Food Security in the United States, 2010 report that found that the percentage of very low food security declined from 5.7% of households in 2009 to 5.4% in 2010. The USDA study indicated that in 2010, 17.2 million households in America had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources. The number of food insecure households in 2010 was relatively consistent with statistics released in 2008 and 2009.

"The main finding from the report is that the prevalence of household insecurity was essentially unchanged from 2009 to 2010," said Alisha Coleman-Jensen, the lead author of the Economic Research Service Report.  "Meanwhile the prevalence of the more severe form of food insecurity, very low food security, declined from 2009 to 2010."

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.

"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 Concannon. "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."

In fiscal year 2010, these programs provided much needed food assistance to millions of individuals, children and families in need. In an average month in 2010 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) provided benefits to 40.3 million people in the United States, 31.6 million children were provided meals every school day by the National School Lunch Program, and an average of 9.2 million participants per month were assisted by the SNAP program for Woman, Infants and Children.

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.
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