November 16, 2010

Millions Of Households Lacked Adequate Food In 2009

More than 17 million households in the United States didn't have enough money to provide food to all of family members for at least some of 2009, according to the results of a Department of Agriculture study.

The study, which was conducted by USDA researchers Mark Nord, Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, found that 85.3 percent of American households had enough income and other resources to fully provide for all members of the family.

The remaining 14.7 percent had difficulty providing for the entire household sometime during the year, and 5.7 percent of those--a total of 6.8 million homes--were said to experience severe food insecurity, meaning that "the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted due to limited resources."

According to CNN.com, the food security levels were essentially unchanged from 2008, but that the rates remained the highest they been since the USDA began keeping track of the statistics in 1995.

CNN also reports that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had increased by 18.7 percent; the National School Lunch Program, which provides free lunches for underprivileged schoolchildren, rose by 5.4 percent; and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) jumped 5.8 percent.

The USDA report concluded that food insecurity rates were "substantially higher" in households at or below the Federal poverty line, single-parent households, and Black and Hispanic households. Furthermore, those living in large cities were more likely to suffer from a lack of resources than those living in rural or suburban locales.

"It's a considerable reflection of what is going on in the economy," Kevin Concannon, the USDA's undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, told Washington Post Staff Writer Kimberly Kindy on Tuesday, adding that he was somewhat hopeful that the numbers appeared to stabilize despite a spike in unemployment rates from 9 million in 2008 to 14 million in 2009.

"This report highlights just how critical federal nutrition assistance programs are for American families," Concannon added in a statement, according to CNN.com.


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