Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Thirteenth Report to Congress. Economic Security Risk Factor 7. Food Insecurity

03/01/2014

Figure ECON 7. Percentage of Households Classified by Food Security Status: 2011

Figure ECON 7. Percentage of Households Classified by Food Security Status: 2011

Note: Food secure households had consistent access to enough food for active, healthy lives for all household members at all times during the year. Households with low food security obtained enough food to avoid substantial disruptions in eating patterns and food intake, using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries or emergency kitchens. Households with very low food security reported reduced food intake of some household members and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because of the lack of money and other resources.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2011.


  • Figure ECON 7 shows the percentage of households that were food secure, had low food security, and had very low food security in 2011. The majority of U.S. households (85.1 percent) were food secure in 2011; that is, they had consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living.
  • Fifteen (14.9) percent of U.S. households experienced low food security, including 5.7 percent who were classified as having very low food security. Very low food security is defined as having reduced food intake and having normal eating patterns disrupted due to a lack of resources. After increasing significantly from 2007 to 2008, the percentage of households reporting low and very low food security has remained virtually unchanged from 2008 to 2011.
  • Table ECON 7a shows the percentage of households classified by food security status and by selected demographic characteristics. Households with elderly were more food secure (91.6 percent) than were households with children under six (78.1 percent) or households with children under 18 (79.4 percent).
  • There is a relationship between poverty and food security. Fifty-nine (58.9) percent of poor households were food secure compared to 62.4 percent of households below 130 percent of the poverty level, 65.5 percent of households below 185 percent of the poverty level, and 93.0 percent of households above 185 percent of the poverty level.
  • Married-couple households with children were much less likely to experience food insecurity than female-headed households with children. Almost 14 percent (13.9) percent of married-couple households with children were food insecure in 2011 compared to 36.8 percent of female-headed households with children.
  • Table ECON 7b shows the percentage of households classified by food security status between 1998 and 2011. The percentage of households with food insecurity (both low and very low food insecurity) has ranged from a low of 10.1 percent in 1999 to a high of 14.9 percent in 2011.

Table ECON 7a. Percentage of Households Classified by Food Security Status and Selected Characteristics: 2011

  Food Secure Food Insecurity
All Low Very Low
All Households 85.1 14.9 9.2 5.7
    Racial/Ethnic Categories
        Non-Hispanic White 88.6 11.4 6.8 4.6
        Non-Hispanic Black 74.9 25.1 14.6 10.5
        Hispanic 73.8 26.2 17.9 8.3
    Age Categories
        Households with children under 6 78.1 21.9 16.7 5.2
        Households with children under 18 79.4 20.6 14.8 5.8
        Households with elderly 91.6 8.4 5.3 3.1
    Family Categories
        Married-couple households with children 86.1 13.9 10.5 3.4
        Female-headed households with children 63.2 36.8 25.3 11.5
        Male-headed households with children 75.1 24.9 17.4 7.5
    Household Income-to-Poverty Ratio
        Under 1.00 58.9 41.1 23.2 17.9
        Under 1.30 62.4 37.6 21.5 16.1
        Under 1.85 65.5 34.5 20.3 14.2
        1.85 and over 93.0 7.0 4.7 2.3

Note: Food secure households had consistent access to enough food for active, healthy lives for all household members at all times during the year. Households with low food security obtained enough food to avoid substantial disruptions in eating patterns and food intake, using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries or emergency kitchens. Households with very low food security reported reduced food intake of some household members and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because of the lack of money and other resources. Spouses are not present in the female-headed and male-headed household categories.

Race and ethnicity categories for households are determined by the race and ethnicity of the reference person for the household. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Beginning in 2002, estimates for Whites and Blacks are for persons reporting a single race only. Persons who reported more than one race are included in the total for all households but are not shown under any race category. Due to small sample size, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are included in the total for all households but are not shown separately.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2011. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err108.... Data are from the Current Population Survey, Food Security Supplement.

Table ECON 7b. Percentage of Households Classified by Food Security Status: 1998-2011

  Food Secure Food Insecurity
All Low Very Low
1998 88.2 11.8 8.1 3.7
1999 89.9 10.1 7.1 3.0
2000 89.5 10.5 7.3 3.1
2001 89.3 10.7 7.4 7.4
2002 88.9 11.1 7.6 3.5
2003 88.8 11.2 7.7 3.5
2004 88.1 11.9 8.0 3.9
2005 89.0 11.0 7.1 3.9
2006 89.1 10.9 6.9 4.0
2007 88.9 11.1 7.0 4.1
2008 85.4 14.6 8.9 5.7
2009 85.3 14.7 9.0 5.7
2010 85.5 14.5 9.1 5.4
2011 85.1 14.9 9.2 5.7

Note: Food secure households had consistent access to enough food for active, healthy lives for all household members at all times during the year. Households with low food security obtained enough food to avoid substantial disruptions in eating patterns and food intake, using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries or emergency kitchens. Households with very low food security reported reduced food intake of some household members and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because of the lack of money and other resources.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2011.

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