Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1997. Economic Security Risk Factor 9. Food Insecurity

10/01/1997

Household food insecurity, including (at a severe level) direct hunger among children in the household, is related to general income poverty and is expected to affect children's health, cognitive and social development, and general school success.

Figure ECON 9. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure, 1995

Figure ECON 9. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure, 1995

  • A large majority (88 percent) of American households were food secure in the year ending April 1995.
  • About 11.9 million (of approximately 100 million) households experienced food insecurity -- not being able to afford enough food -- at some level during 1995. Most of the food insecure households were "food insecure without hunger," meaning that although food insecurity was evident in their concerns and in adjustments to household food management, including reduced quality of diets, little or no reduction in food intake was reported.
  • About 4 percent of the 100 million households were classified as food insecure with hunger. Thus, one or more adult members of some 4.2 million households were estimated to have experienced reduced food intake and hunger as a result of financial constraints in the year ending April 1995.
  • About 800,000 households were classified as "food insecure with severe hunger," meaning that children, as well as adults, experienced reduced food intake and hunger.

Table ECON 9. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure, 1995

  Food Secure Food Insecure Food Insecure Food Insecure
No Hunger Moderate Hunger Severe Hunger
All Households 88.1 7.8 3.3 0.8
Households with Children Under 6, by Race
White 82.6 13.1 3.6 0.6
Black 70.1 19.7 8.8 1.4
Hispanic 66.8 23.6 7.9 1.7
Other 79.4 14.1 4.0 2.6
Households with Children Under 18, by Race
White 84.6 11.1 3.6 0.7
Black 71.8 18.1 8.5 1.6
Hispanic 69.6 21.6 7.5 1.3
Other 81.1 12.6 4.7 1.6
Households with Elderly but no Children, by Race
White 95.3 3.2 1.3 0.2
Black 81.7 12.6 4.3 1.4
Hispanic 79.1 15.2 4.0 1.7
Other 87.7 7.8 3.6 0.9
Household Income-to-Poverty Ratio (all races and household types)
Under 0.50 58.4 24.6 12.1 4.9
Under 1.00 64.7 22.1 10.0 3.1
Under 1.30 68.1 20.0 9.3 2.6
Under 1.85 73.8 17.0 7.3 1.9
1.85 and over 95.8 2.8 1.2 0.2
Households with Children under 18 (all races)
Married-Couple Families 88.5 8.8 2.3 0.5
Female Head, No Spouse 64.7 22.9 10.3 2.0
Male Head, No Spouse 81.4 12.0 5.6 1.0

Note: Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be any race

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Service, Office of Analysis and Evaluation, Household Food Security in the United States in 1995.

  • Table ECON 9 shows that white households with children had the lowest prevalence of food insecurity of any racial group and female-headed households with children under 18 had a higher prevalence of food insecurity compared to male-headed or married-couple families.
  • Although there were higher prevalences of food security as the household income-to-poverty ratio increased, Table ECON 9 shows that significant increases only occurred when income levels exceeded 185 percent of poverty.