Overview

Last updated: July 15, 2021
Food insufficiency, which means sometimes or often not having enough to eat, has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain populations are experiencing higher levels of food insufficiency as a result of systemic inequalities that pre-date the pandemic.

Food Insufficiency in the U.S.

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  • Summary Data

    • According to Census Household Pulse Survey data, rates of food insufficiency (“sometimes” or “often” not having enough to eat) have stayed constant at 9.7 percent from late May through early July.
    • Breakdown by race/ethnicity: Rates did not change appreciably for any racial or ethnic group.
    • Breakdown by family type: Food insufficiency rates among households with children increased slightly from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent.
    • Breakdown by gender: The disparity by gender narrowed slightly, with rates of food insufficiency decreasing for women (10.7 percent to 10.3 percent) and increasing for men (8.6 to 9.0 percent).

  • Economic Context to Explain Increase in Food Insufficiency

    • FRAC expects food hardship to reflect financial hardship and economic circumstances.
    • In the Pulse data, the percentage of people who found it “somewhat” or “very” difficult to pay usual household expenses edged back down across all demographic groups after having increased from May to June.
    • Other economic data: June saw strong growth in the number of jobs, but unemployment did not decline. In addition, after months of gradual increases in prices, the cost of food increased sharply in June, which may have lingering effects on food insufficiency.

  • Key Takeaways

    • Stagnating rates of food insufficiency and the lack of clear trends among different economic indicators both indicate it is important to continue COVID-19 policies and waivers that increase access to healthy food and improve health and well-being due to the boosts in SNAP benefit levels.
    • To ensure an equitable recovery, benefits should not be ended too early and leave behind those who are still struggling.

Data Visualizations

Mapping Food Insufficiency

The map shows the average rate of food insufficiency, which means sometimes or often not having enough to eat, in the previous seven days. Food insufficiency rates are calculated from the Census Household Pulse Survey data.

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Comparing States

The bar graphs show the average rate of food insufficiency, which means sometimes or often not having enough to eat, in the previous seven days. Food insufficiency rates are calculated from the Census Household Pulse Survey data.

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