Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

Hunger Levels Remain Stubbornly High In US

A driver from DC Central Kitchen delivers food to the USDA Farmers Market.

The UN Department of Agriculture's latest report on domestic hunger shows levels of food insecurity stayed about the same from 2015 to 2016, with 41.2 million Americans suffering from hunger at some point in the year.

That number includes 17 million children.

The USDA defines food insecure households as "uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."

Hunger levels have declined overall since peaking at 14.9 percent in 2011.

But the slow progress stalled from 2015 to 2016, with the national average falling only from 12.7 percent to 12.3 percent.

Racial Disparity

The yearly reports show hunger levels among black and Hispanic households are much higher than the national average.

In 2016, African-American hunger levels were 22.5 percent, with Hispanic levels at 18.5 percent.

In 2014, with a national food insecurity average of 14.0 percent, African-American households reported 26.1 percent, while Hispanics reported 22.4 percent.

Despite statements from President Donald Trump painting poverty as an issue affecting "inner cities," the report showed that rural areas had a higher percent of food insecurity than urban areas, at 15 percent compared to 14.2 percent, respectively.

The Global Picture

Meanwhile, the USDA predicted in a separate report that global hunger levels in 79 low- and middle-income countries will fall over the next decade from 17.7 percent to 8.9 percent.

The report cited low food prices and rising incomes, with poor countries in Asia seeing higher growth than in other regions.

The USDA forecast that hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa would see a much slower decline from current average levels of 31.7 percent to above 20 percent in 2027.

In nine of the African countries, more than half of the population is food insecure, including Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Liberia.

Read More:

  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2016 (USDA)
  • New Usda Data: 41.2 Million Americans – And 12.9 Million Children – Still Struggle Against Hunger (Hunger Free America)
  • International Food Security Assessment, 2017-2027 (USDA)

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media