What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation for a household or can last a long time. Food insecurity is one way we can measure how many people cannot afford food.
More than 38 million people, including 12 million children face food insecurity in the United States.
What causes food insecurity?
Unfortunately, many people in America struggle to meet their basic needs which increases their risk of food insecurity. Lay-offs at work, unexpected car maintenance, or an accident on the job can suddenly force a family to choose between buying food and paying bills.
The causes of food insecurity are complex. Some of the causes of food insecurity include:
- Poverty, unemployment, or low income
- Lack of affordable housing
- Chronic health conditions or lack of access to healthcare
- Systemic racism and racial discrimination
What are the effects of food insecurity?
Food insecurity can have a wide impact, depending on each individual’s circumstances. Some of the most common, yet complex, effects of food insecurity include:
- Serious health complications, especially when people facing hunger are forced to choose between spending money on food and medicine or medical care
- Damage to a child’s ability to learn and grow
- Difficult decisions such as choosing between paying for food and heat, electricity, rent, and transportation
How can we end food insecurity?
Part of what makes food insecurity so difficult to solve is that the underlying causes — poverty, unemployment/under-employment, and inconsistent access to enough healthy food — are often deeply interconnected. Moving in and out of food insecurity simply adds more stress to a household that may already be wrestling with instability and unpredictability.
Feeding America is leading the fight to end hunger in America. In addition to feeding people who face hunger, we work to raise awareness about the issue, advocate for policies to protect people in need, and conduct in-depth research to find solutions to hunger.