One in seven US households faced hunger in 2009

Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) At least one in seven households in the US faced hunger in 2009, with those getting emergency food almost doubling between 2007 and 2009, at the height of the recession.

The number of households facing food insecurity jumped to 5.6 million from 3.9 million, said a report published Monday by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the US department of agriculture (USDA).

Eightyfive percent of American households were ‘food secure’ throughout 2009, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all members of the household, the report said.

But the remaining households (14.7 percent) were ‘food insecure’ at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent with very low food security, it said.

In households with very low food security, the food intake of one or more household members fell and their eating patterns were disrupted at times because they lacked money and other resources.

Food insecurity and very low food security in 2009 was 14.6 percent in 2008 and 11.1 percent in 2007, and was the highest since since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted.

Among states, food insecurity ranged from a 6.7 percent level in North Dakota to a 17.7 percent high in Arkansas, as measured over a three-year period through 2009.

Very low food security ranged from North Dakota’s 2.6 percent to Alabama’s 6.8 percent.

The typical food-secure household spent 33 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition.

Fiftyseven percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programmes during the month prior to the 2009 survey.

The USDA oversees the government’s food stamp programme, also known the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP), for low-income families and other domestic feeding programmes like school lunches.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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