USDA Report Shows More Than 17 million American Households Lack Food Security

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2011 — USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced 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 percent of households in 2009 to 5.4 percent 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.

“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.”

The report released today indicates that 59 percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest nutrition assistance programs near the time of the survey.

In fiscal year 2010, these programs provided much needed food assistance to millions of individuals, children and families in need:

  • In an average month of fiscal year 2010 (October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provided benefits to 40.3 million people in the United States.
  • In fiscal year 2010, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provided meals to an average of 31.6 million children each school day.
  • In fiscal year 2010, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) served an average 9.2 million participants per month.

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. The media briefing kit can be obtained at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Features/HouseholdFoodSecurity2010/.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs including the Summer Food Service Program; SNAP; NSLP; WIC; and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net. USDA administers these programs in partnership with state and local agencies and works with faith and community-based organizations to ensure that nutrition assistance is available to those in need. Additional information about the programs can be found at www.fns.usda.gov.

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