Five years after the onset of the financial and economic crisis, hunger remains high in the United States. The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States. This high level of hunger continued in 2012, according to the latest government report (with the most recent statistics) released in September 2013 (Coleman-Jensen 2013).

  • In 2012, 14.5 percent of households (17.6 million households, approximately one in seven), were food insecure (Coleman-Jensen 2013 p v.).  This percentage is the same as 2008, and has been the highest number recorded since these statistics have been kept (Coleman-Jensen 2013, p. v).
  • In 2012, 5.7 percent of U.S. households (7.0 million households) had very low food security. 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 (Coleman-Jensen 2013, p. v) .
  • Children were food insecure at times during the year in 10.0 percent of households with children. These 3.9 million households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children  While children are usually shielded by their parents, who go hungry themselves, from the disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake that characterize very low food security, both children and adults experienced instances of very low food security in 1.2 percent of households with children (463,000 households) in 2012 (Coleman-Jensen 2013, p. v-vi).
  • The median [a type of average] food-secure household spent 27 percent more on food than the median food-insecure household of the same size and household composition including food purchased with Supplemental
    Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly the Food Stamp Program).(Coleman-Jensen 2013, p. vi).
  • Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households (Coleman-Jensen 2013, p. vi).
  • Background: The United States changed the name of its definitions in 2006 that eliminated references to hunger, keeping various categories of food insecurity.  This did not represent a change in what was measured.  Very low food insecurity (described as food insecurity with hunger prior to 2006) means that, at times during the year, the food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money and other resources for food. This means that people were hungry (in the sense of “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food” [Oxford English Dictionary 1971] for days each year.
Chef BrackenHunger in America