An estimated 12.7 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2015, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. That is down from 14.0 percent in 2014.
USDA’s Economic Research Service plays a leading role in Federal research on food security and food security measurement in U.S. households and communities. In this webinar, ERS Social Science Analyst Alisha Coleman-Jensen provided an overview of USDA’s annual report on the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households in 2015. The report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2015, includes changes in food insecurity from previous years, the prevalence of food insecurity by selected household characteristics, and food insecurity among children. Food-insecure households are defined as having had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Food-secure households are defined as having had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
The webinar was recorded and close-captioned and is posted here.
by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Matthew P. Rabbitt, Christian A. Gregory, and Anita Singh
What Is the Issue?
Most U.S. households have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living—they are food secure. But some American households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs increase food security by providing low-income households access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. USDA monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households through an annual, nationally representative survey sponsored and analyzed by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). This report presents statistics from the survey covering households’ food security, food expenditures, and use of Federal food and nutrition assistance programs in 2015.
What Did the Study Find?
The estimated percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure in 2015 declined significantly from 2014, to 12.7 percent, continuing a downward trend in food insecurity from a high of 14.9 percent in 2011. The 2015 prevalence of food insecurity was still above the 2007 prerecessionary level of 11.1 percent. In 2015, the percentage of households with food insecurity in the severe range—very low food security—also declined significantly.
In 2015, 87.3 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 12.7 percent (15.8 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The decline from 2014 (14.0 percent) was statistically significant.
In 2015, 5.0 percent of U.S. households (6.3 million households) had very low food security, down from 5.6 percent in 2014. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. This decline was also statistically significant.
Children were food insecure at times during the year in 7.8 percent of U.S. households with children (3.0 million households), down significantly from 9.4 percent in 2014. These households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.