Poverty, Food Insecurity and Unemployment

Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same.  Poverty is only one of many factors associated with food insecurity. In fact, higher unemployment, lower household assets, and certain demographic characteristics also lead to a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food.


Poverty[i]

·         In 2012, 46.5 million people (15 percent) were in poverty.

  • In 2012, 26.5 million (14 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty.

  • In 2012, 16.1 million (22 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.

  • In 2012, 3.9 million (9 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.

  • The overall poverty rate according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure is 16 percent, as compared with the official poverty rate of 15 percent.[ii]

  • Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, there are 49.7 million people living in poverty, more than 3 million more than are represented by the official poverty measure (46.5 million).[iii]

 

Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security[iv] 

  • In 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children. 
  • In 2012, 15 percent of households (17.6 million households) were food insecure.
  • In 2012, 6 percent of households (7.0 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • In 2012, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20 percent compared to 12 percent.
  • In 2012, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20%), especially households with children headed by single women (35%) or single men (24%), Black non-Hispanic households (25%) and Hispanic households (23%).
  • In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8 percent of all seniors were food insecure.[v]
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 33 percent in Humphreys County, MS.[vi]

Ten states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2000-2012:[vii]

United States                    14.7%

Mississippi                          20.9%

Arkansas                              19.7%

Texas                                    18.4%

Alabama                              17.9%

North Carolina                   17.0%

Georgia                                16.9%

Missouri                               16.7%

Nevada                                16.6%

Ohio                                      16.1%

California                             15.6%

 

Use of Charitable Food Assistance and Federal Food Assistance Programs

  • In 2012, 59 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). [viii]
  • Feeding America provides food assistance to an estimated 46.5 million people annually, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. Based on annual income, 72 percent of all Feeding America client households live at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.[ix]
  • Among all Feeding America client households, 55 percent report receiving SNAP benefits.[x] Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Feeding America client households with children under the age of 18 report receiving benefits through WIC.[xi]
  • Nearly all Feeding America client households with school-aged children (94%) receive free or reduced-price school lunch through the National School Lunch Program, whereas less than half of the same population (46%) participate in the School Breakfast Program’s free or reduced-price breakfasts.[xii]

 

 

National and State 2013 Annual Average Unemployment Rates[xiii]

Unemployment Rates for States
Annual Average Rankings
Year: 2013

Rank

State

Rate (%)

UNITED STATES

7.4

1

NORTH DAKOTA

 2.9

2

SOUTH DAKOTA

 3.8

3

NEBRASKA

 3.9

4

UTAH

 4.4

4

VERMONT

 4.4

6

IOWA

 4.6

6

WYOMING

 4.6

8

HAWAII

 4.8

9

MINNESOTA

 5.1

10

NEW HAMPSHIRE

 5.3

11

KANSAS

 5.4

11

OKLAHOMA

 5.4

13

VIRGINIA

 5.5

14

MONTANA

 5.6

15

IDAHO

 6.2

15

LOUISIANA

 6.2

17

TEXAS

 6.3

18

ALABAMA

 6.5

18

ALASKA

 6.5

18

MISSOURI

 6.5

18

WEST VIRGINIA

 6.5

22

MARYLAND

 6.6

23

DELAWARE

 6.7

23

MAINE

 6.7

23

WISCONSIN

 6.7

26

COLORADO

 6.8

27

NEW MEXICO

 6.9

28

WASHINGTON

 7.0

29

MASSACHUSETTS

 7.1

30

FLORIDA

 7.2

31

OHIO

 7.4

31

PENNSYLVANIA

 7.4

33

ARKANSAS

 7.5

33

INDIANA

 7.5

35

SOUTH CAROLINA

 7.6

36

NEW YORK

 7.7

36

OREGON

 7.7

38

CONNECTICUT

 7.8

39

ARIZONA

 8.0

39

NORTH CAROLINA

 8.0

41

GEORGIA

 8.2

41

NEW JERSEY

 8.2

41

TENNESSEE

 8.2

44

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

 8.3

44

KENTUCKY

 8.3

46

MISSISSIPPI

 8.6

47

MICHIGAN

 8.8

48

CALIFORNIA

 8.9

49

ILLINOIS

 9.2

50

RHODE ISLAND

 9.5

51

NEVADA

 9.8

 


 



[i] DeNavas-Walt, C., B.D. Proctor &J.C. Smith. (2013). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States:  2012. U.S. Census Bureau.

[ii] The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2012. (2012). U.S. Census Bureau.

[iii] Ibid.

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

[v] Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C. (2013.) Spotlight on Food Insecurity among Senior Americans: 2011. National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH).

[vi] Gundersen, C., E. Engelhard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman. Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America, 2014.

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

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014, National Report. August 2014.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] U.S. Department of Labor.Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2013 Annual Average Unemployment Rates.