Hunger Facts

Forty-nine million Americans lived in food insecure households in 2012. i

For most households, food insecurity is a measure of food access problems, anxiety and poor nutrition, rather than "missing meals." ii

The national food insecurity rate rose significantly in 2008 and hasn't improved since then. iii

Food insecurity rates are higher for households with children—especially those headed by single mothers—African-American and Hispanic households, and those with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty level (about $43,000 for a family of four in 2013). iv

Seven million U.S. households (5.7 percent) suffer from very low food security, which means that one or more household members are eating less than they should and/or missing meals. v

Six out of 10 households with incomes below poverty are food secure. vi

The number of food insecure adults age 50 and older increased by 40 percent between 2007 and 2009. vii

In 2012, 40 percent of food insecure households had not participated in the largest Federal nutrition programs in the previous month: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), WIC and the National School Lunch Program. viii

Disabilities are associated with higher risk for food insecurity. Nearly one in three food insecure households include a working-age adult with a disability. ix

In each food-insecure household, family members may experience food insecurity in different ways. Children under six, in particular, are more likely to be shielded from its worst effects, while adults in the same household often suffer more acutely. x

Kindergarteners who experience even minimal food insecurity at home learn less than their peers do during that formative year. Those who experience higher food insecurity fall even further behind. xi

Undernourished elementary school students have lower math scores and are more likely to repeat a grade level. They are also more likely to have seen a psychologist and have a harder time getting along with their peers. xii

As they enter adolescence, food insecure children are twice as likely to be suspended from school. xiii

Children who suffer from very low food security are twice as likely to require special educational services, which can be nearly double the cost of a mainstream public education. xiv, xv

The average household with very low food security experiences the condition during seven months of the year. xvi

Food insecure women may be at greater risk of major depression and other mental health problems. xvii, xviii


i Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

ii Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

iii Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

iv Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

v Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

vi Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

vii Ziliak, J.P. and C. Gunderson. (2011) Food Insecurity among Older Adults. Report submitted to the AARP Foundation.

viii Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

ix Coleman-Jensen, A. & Nord, M. (2013) Food Insecurity among Households with Working-Age Adults with Disabilities. USDA ERS.

x Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

xi Winicki, J. & Jemison, K. (2003) “Food Insecurity and Hunger in the Kindergarten Classroom: Its Effect on Learning and Growth.” Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 21, No. 2.

xii Alaimo K, Olson, CM, & Frongillo EA Jr. (2001) Food Insufficiency and American School-Aged Children’s Cognitive, Academic and Psychosocial Development. Pediatrics, 108.

xiii Alaimo K, Olson, CM, & Frongillo EA Jr. (2001) Food Insufficiency and American School-Aged Children’s Cognitive, Academic and Psychosocial Development. Pediatrics, 108.

xiv Kleinman, R., et al. (1998) Hunger in Children in the United States: Potential Behavioral and Emotional Correlates. Pediatrics, Vol. 101, No. 1.

xv Cook, J. & Jeng, K. (2010) Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on our Nation. Commissioned by Feeding America and the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

xvi Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. USDA ERS.

xvii Heflin, Siefert, & Williams (2005) Food insufficiency and women’s mental health: Findings from a 3-year panel of welfare recipients. Social Science & Medicine, 61.

xviii Whitaker, Phillips, & Orzol (2006) Food insecurity and the risks of depression and anxiety in mothers and behavior problems in their pre-school-aged children. Pediatrics, 118.

North Texas Food Bank 4500 S. Cockrell Hill Road Dallas, TX 75236-2028 214.330.1396 (MAP IT)

The development of this website was generously underwritten by The Hoblitzelle Foundation.

Site developed by RSW