The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Adach, Communications Manager,,Phone: (202) 986-2200 x3018,Email: jadach[at]frac[dot]org

One in Seven Americans in Households Struggling Against Hunger

New National and State Data Underscore Need for Congress to Keep Federal Nutrition Programs Strong, Says FRAC


More than 17.5 million American (14.3 percent) households struggled against hunger in 2013, according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service. The 2013 numbers were unchanged (in terms of statistical significance) from the 2012 rate, when 14.5 percent were considered to be food insecure, but a slight dip from the 2011 rate of 14.9 percent. The rate is, however, far above the 11.1 percent rate in 2007, before the recession.

The very low food security rate - describing households that faced deeper struggles with hunger - was 5.6 percent in 2013, compared to 4.1 percent in 2007 before the recession.

"Hunger continues to plague too many Americans. We can end hunger in this country, but that takes political will. It is up to our nation's leaders - Congress, the President, state and local officials - to make sure that workers can earn family supporting wages, and that income supports and nutrition assistance programs reach more people in need and provide more adequate benefits," said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center. "That means strengthening, not cutting or limiting nutrition programs. For starters, Congress should look at ways to improve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit levels."

"Ending hunger is an investment that our nation should - and must - make," concluded Weill.

Other findings from the USDA report include:

  • 19.5 percent of households with children were considered to be food insecure in 2013.
  • Food insecurity rates for Black and Hispanic households were substantially above the national average, with 26.1 percent of Black households and 23.7 percent of Hispanic households reporting they struggled against hunger in 2013.
  • Food insecurity rates ranged from 21.2 percent in Arkansas and 8.7 percent in North Dakota for the period of 2011 to 2013, showing that no corner of the country is immune from this struggle. For state food insecurity rates, USDA uses three year averages for states to obtain adequate sample sizes.

Visit FRAC's website at for ongoing analysis of the food insecurity numbers.

About the USDA Report
Since 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture, using data from surveys conducted annually by the Census Bureau, has released estimates of the number of people in households that are food insecure. Food insecure households are those that are not able to afford an adequate diet at all times in the past 12 months. The report also includes food insecurity rates for each state, but for states it uses three-year averages to give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing food insecurity. Experts agree that the Census/USDA measure of food insecurity is a conservative one, with the result that only households experiencing substantial food insecurity are so classified.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) leads efforts to broaden low-income children's access to healthy school lunch and breakfast, summer and afterschool meals and child care food in the child nutrition reauthorization process.