A new report released Sept. 4 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that one in nine households (11.1 percent) in the United States encountered difficulty at some time during 2018 in providing enough food for their family. This represents a decline of 0.7 percentage points from last year and is the lowest rate since prior to the recession. There was a particularly large decline in food insecurity among households with children, which went from 15.7 percent in 2017 to 13.9 percent in 2018 and represents the lowest rate in at least 20 years.
While the declines are certainly good news, 37.2 million Americans still face hunger, including 11.2 million children. Some of the groups experiencing above-average rates of food insecurity include households with children led by single parents, households with children under age 6 and households with low incomes.
Among people who are food insecure, approximately one-third have incomes above 185 percent of the federal poverty line, and most do not quality for any federal nutrition assistance programs. For these households, charitable food assistance may be the only option.
“While we are encouraged by the decline in food insecurity rates, the fact that more than 37 million Americans struggle to put food on the table is unacceptable,” says Kate Leone, chief government relations officer of Feeding America. “Additionally, the Administration has proposed a rule change to SNAP that could jeopardize this progress. By its own estimates, the proposed rule would take SNAP benefits away from more than 3 million individuals and increase food insecurity. We urge the administration and Congress to protect SNAP.”
Feeding America is leading efforts against this SNAP proposal and encouraging others to do the same. The public has until Sept. 23 to submit comments here to the USDA on how dangerous this proposal is to the health and well-being of many Americans.
The USDA’s report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2018, is published by USDA’s Economic Research Service and reports on data collected in December 2018. The report also presents statistics on how much households spent on food, and the extent to which food-insecure households participated in federal and community food assistance programs for 2018.