What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation for a household or can last a long time. Food insecurity is one way we can measure how many people cannot afford food
What causes food insecurity?
Unfortunately, many people in America struggle to meet their basic needs which increases their risk of food insecurity. Lay-offs at work, unexpected car maintenance, or an accident on the job can suddenly force a family to choose between buying food and paying bills.
The causes of food insecurity are complex. Some of the causes of food insecurity include:
- Poverty, unemployment, or low income
- Lack of affordable housing
- Chronic health conditions or lack of access to healthcare
- Systemic racism and racial discrimination
What are the effects of food insecurity?
Food insecurity can have a wide impact, depending on each individual’s circumstances. Some of the most common, yet complex, effects of food insecurity include:
- Serious health complications, especially when people facing hunger are forced to choose between spending money on food and medicine or medical care
- Damage to a child’s ability to learn and grow
- Difficult decisions such as choosing between paying for food and heat, electricity, rent, and transportation
Who faces hunger in the United States?
Hunger can affect people from all walks of life. Millions of people in America are just one job loss, missed paycheck, or medical emergency away from hunger. But hunger doesn’t affect everyone equally – some groups like children, seniors, and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color face hunger at much higher rates. Hunger also most often affects our neighbors who live in poverty. Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and visit their local food banks and other food programs for extra support.
Facts about hunger in America according to USDA
- 38 million people
- 12 million children
- Communities hardest hit include:
- African American
- Native American
The pandemic has increased food insecurity among families with children and communities of color, who already faced hunger at much higher rates before the pandemic.