WASHINGTON — A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the food insecurity level in the U.S. has stayed at the same rate since 2008.
Last year, 14.5% of all U.S. households — 17.6 million — were considered food insecure, meaning that the household “had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to lack of resources,” according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service report.
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In addition, 5.7% of American households have “very low” food security, which the USDA defines as eating less food or skipping meals due to financial difficulty.
That means that the remaining 85.5% of the country’s households were considered food secure in 2012.
Not all food insecure households used one of the large federal food programs, at least within 30 days of taking the USDA survey. Only 59.4% of food insecure households used either the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The most well-used program among the food insecure was the National School Lunch Program, with 32.5% of households receiving free or reduced-cost school lunch. In addition, 42% of food insecure households used SNAP and 11.4% used WIC.
Unsurprisingly, the report found that households with more financial resources typically spend more on food. The average household spent $50 per week per person on food, with food insecure households only spending $37.50 per week per person.
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