Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same.  Unemployment rather than poverty is a stronger predictor of food insecurity.

Poverty [i]

  • In 2012, 46.5 million people (15.0 percent) were in poverty.
  • In 2012, 26.5 million (13.7 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty.
  • In 2012, 16.1 million (21.8 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
  • In 2012, 3.9 million (9.1 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.
  • The overall poverty rate according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure is 16.1%, as compared with the official poverty rate of 15.1%. [ii]
  • Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, there are 49.7 million people living in poverty, 3.1 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, 14.5 percent of households (17.6 million households) were food insecure. 
  • In 2012, 5.7 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, 20.0 percent compared to 11.9 percent. 
  • In 2012, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.0 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35.4 percent) or single men (23.6 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.6 percent) and Hispanic households (23.3 percent).
  • In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4% of all seniors were food insecure. [v] 
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 2.4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 35.2 percent in Holmes 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 Emergency Food Assistance and Federal Food Assistance Programs

  • In 2012, 59.4 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. [ix] 
  • Feeding America provides emergency food assistance to an estimated 37 million low-income people annually, a 46 percent increase from 25 million since Hunger in America 2006.[x]
  • Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites. [xi]

 National and State 2012 Annual Average Unemployment Rates [xii]

 

Unemployment Rates for States
Annual AverageRankings
Year: 2012

Rank

State

Rate

UNITED STATES

8.1

1

NORTH DAKOTA

3.1

2

NEBRASKA

3.9

3

SOUTH DAKOTA

4.4

4

VERMONT

5.0

5

IOWA

5.2

5

OKLAHOMA

5.2

7

WYOMING

5.4

8

NEW HAMPSHIRE

5.5

9

MINNESOTA

5.6

10

KANSAS

5.7

10

UTAH

5.7

12

HAWAII

5.8

13

VIRGINIA

5.9

14

MONTANA

6.0

15

LOUISIANA

6.4

16

MASSACHUSETTS

6.7

17

MARYLAND

6.8

17

TEXAS

6.8

19

MISSOURI

6.9

19

NEW MEXICO

6.9

19

WISCONSIN

6.9

22

ALASKA

7.0

23

DELAWARE

7.1

23

IDAHO

7.1

25

OHIO

7.2

26

ALABAMA

7.3

26

ARKANSAS

7.3

26

MAINE

7.3

26

WEST VIRGINIA

7.3

30

PENNSYLVANIA

7.9

31

COLORADO

8.0

31

TENNESSEE

8.0

33

KENTUCKY

8.2

33

WASHINGTON

8.2

35

ARIZONA

8.3

36

CONNECTICUT

8.4

36

INDIANA

8.4

38

NEW YORK

8.5

39

FLORIDA

8.6

40

OREGON

8.7

41

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

8.9

41

ILLINOIS

8.9

43

GEORGIA

9.0

44

MICHIGAN

9.1

44

SOUTH CAROLINA

9.1

46

MISSISSIPPI

9.2

47

NEW JERSEY

9.5

47

NORTH CAROLINA

9.5

49

RHODE ISLAND

10.4

50

CALIFORNIA

10.5

51

NEVADA

11.1

 



[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: 2011. (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., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., Satoh, A., & Chawla, N. (2013). Map the Meal Gap 2013, Feeding America.

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

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Cohen, R., J. Mabli,, F. Potter & Z. Zhao. (2010). Hunger in America 2010. Mathematica Policy Research, Feeding America.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] U.S. Department of Labor.Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2012 Annual Average Unemployment Rates.