The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its annual report, Household Food Security in the United States 2013. The report reveals that 14.3 percent of U.S. households were food-insecure in 2013. This number is a slight decline since 2011 but remains well above the rates of food insecurity recorded before the recession.
“Our elected officials need to make ending hunger a national priority,” said Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World. “It is unacceptable that 17.5 million households in this country must choose between paying for medicine, rent, day care, or food.
In 2008, the number of food-insecure Americans increased by more than 30 percent as a result of the recession and has remained above 14 percent. The USDA defines food insecurity as “when consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
The working poor and families living in poverty are most vulnerable to food insecurity. The threat to children is especially high – 15.8 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2013.
According to the USDA report, for 360,000 households, “food insecurity among children was so severe that caregivers reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.” Studies show that children who are hungry and at risk of hunger are more likely to struggle in school and have an increased risk for illnesses and weakened immune systems.