USDA monitors the food security of U.S. households—their consistent access to enough food for active, healthy living—through annual, nationally representative surveys. Statistics based on the December 2002 survey indicate that 89 percent of households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 11 percent were food insecure at some time during 2002. These households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food for all household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food. Most food-insecure households avoided hunger by relying on a few basic foods, reducing variety in their diets, or getting emergency food from a food pantry. But 3.8 million households, 3.5 percent of all U.S. households, were food insecure to the extent that one or more household members were hungry at least some time during the year because they could not afford enough food.
What about that qualifying phrase, “at least some time during the year?” How often were people hungry in those 3.8 million households? Was this typically a rare, one-time occurrence, or do some U.S. households regularly face hunger? These are important questions for policymakers who design and manage programs to fight hunger. To answer these questions, ERS analyzed survey responses about how frequently households faced various food-insecure conditions during the year.
This article is drawn from...
Household Food Security in the United States, 2002, by Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, USDA, Economic Research Service, October 2003
Overview, by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Christian Gregory, and Matthew Rabbitt, USDA, Economic Research Service, October 2014