A report on food insecurity released by USDA's Economic Research Service reveals that in 2008, 17 million households had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year. That's an increase of 4 million households from 2007 and is the highest level observed since nationally representative food security surveys were initiated in 1995.
This year's report also reveals that one third of food insecure households, or about 6.7 million households, had very low food security. That is to say that food intake of some household members was reduced and their eating patterns disrupted at times during the year. Also, according to the report, children as well as adults experienced instances of very low food security in 506,000 households.
"I think it is a wake-up call for us to get very serious about food security and hunger; about food safety and nutrition in this country," said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I anticipate that we will continue to focus on this issue as Congress looks at reauthorizing the Child Nutrition programs, as Congress focuses on additional statutory support in food safety, and as we continue to try and encourage better nutrition."
Senate Ag Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said the report is a sobering reminder that there are tens of millions of Americans struggling through one of the worst economic recessions in recent memory. She says the report underscores the importance of federal food assistance programs and the need for Congress to undertake the reauthorization of federal child nutrition programs with a strong focus on increasing program access and improving nutritional quality.
The full study is available at www.ers.usda.gov/features/householdfoodsecurity/. To listen to an excerpt of the USDA teleconference call discussing the report, use the audio player above.