Hunger Quick Facts

  • More than 35 million Americans live in households that struggle against hunger.
  • One in ten (10.5 percent) of households in the U.S. experience food insecurity.
  • Households in rural areas are experiencing considerably deeper struggles with hunger compared to those in metro areas, with higher rates of food insecurity overall (12.1 percent compared to 10.3 percent).
  • One in eight households with children cannot buy enough food for their families.
  • The food insecurity rate for households with children (13.6 percent) is considerably higher than the rate for households without children (9.3 percent).
  • The rates of food insecurity were much higher for households headed by African Americans (19.1 percent — two and a half times the rate for white non-Hispanic households (7.9 percent)) and Hispanics (15.2 percent — two times the rate for white non-Hispanic households (7.9 percent).
  • The food insecurity rate is highest in the South, followed by the Midwest, West, and Northeast.
  • The prevalence of food insecurity varied considerably by state, ranging from 6.6 percent in New Hampshire to 15.7 percent in Mississippi (for the three-year period of 2017–2019).

Household Food Security in the United States in 2019

*Readers should note that these 2019 statistics were collected in December 2019 and do not reflect the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020.

Updated 9/9/2020

Food Research & Action Center’s Transition Recommendations “This is the Time to Heal in America,” and It Begins With Addressing Hunger

Read FRAC’s transition recommendations for the incoming Biden administration. This document provides a roadmap for the Biden-Harris Administration to address hunger in America. It sets forth the harms of food insecurity, summarizes the strengths of the federal nutrition programs, and concludes with high-priority recommendations for administrative and legislative asks that need to be taken to reduce hunger and poverty.

Read the Transition Recommendations

Food Over Fear: Overcoming Barriers to Connect Latinx Immigrant Families to Federal Nutrition and Food Programs

Read FRAC and National Immigration Law Center’s report which sheds light on why many immigrant families are forgoing vital assistance from federal nutrition and food programs and lifts up recommendations aimed at ensuring that all families and individuals, regardless of immigration status, are nourished and healthy.

Read the Report

Not Enough to Eat

Read FRAC’s latest report Not Enough to Eat: COVID-19 Deepens America’s Hunger Crisis finds that Black and Latinx households, women, and children have been particularly hit hard during the pandemic. The report also underscores how the struggle to put food on the table would be far worse if not for federal nutrition programs.

Find out more

Food Insecurity Maps and Tables

Want to learn more about food insecurity in your state? Explore FRAC’s interactive maps and tables to find the most recent household food insecurity rates in your state. Scroll over your state to view the percent of households struggling with food insecurity or very low food security. Engage with FRAC’s interactive, searchable tables to see the change in household food insecurity rates over time.

Find out more

Poverty Quick Facts

  • 34.0 million people (10.5 percent) lived in poverty in 2019, down from 11.8 percent in 2018.
  • One in seven (14.4% or 10.5 million) children lived in poverty in 2019.
  • The 2019 poverty rate was much higher for Black individuals (18.8 percent) and Hispanic individuals (15.7 percent) than for white, non-Hispanic individuals (7.3 percent).
  • SNAP lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, school lunches lifted 1.2 million out of poverty, and WIC lifted 299,000 people out of poverty in 2019.

The Census Bureau released its latest report on income, poverty, and health insurance on September 15. See the reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2019

The Census Bureau also released its Supplemental Poverty Measure report in September. See the report: The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2019

Solutions Exist to End Hunger & Poverty

Hunger in America is a serious issue that requires a serious response. When there is talk about improving opportunities for all Americans through education, health care, and the economy, addressing hunger and poverty must be a part of that conversation.

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Education
The last thing on a hungry child’s mind is learning. Children are better equipped to learn when they have the nutrition they need. Yet too many low-income children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals are not accessing them. More must be done to increase participation in school meals, summers meals, afterschool meals, and child care meals.
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Health care
Research shows that food insecurity is linked with costly chronic diseases and unfavorable outcomes. According to the Root Cause Coalition, the annual costs of hunger to the U.S. health care system are $130.5 billion. Greater investments in nutrition programs would go a long way in addressing obesity and other negative health outcomes faced by low-income Americans.
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Economy
SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger for millions of Americans. The program also stimulates the economy. Recent census data shows that SNAP lifted 3.6 million people out of poverty in 2016. In addition, USDA research shows that each $5 of SNAP benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity. Federal nutrition programs can’t do it alone. There must be a comprehensive approach.

Recent Publications & Data

See More Resources
  • Report

    The School Nutrition Programs are vital tools for combating childhood hunger, improving children’s health, and supporting academic achievement. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of school meals in alleviating childhood food insecurity while also demonstrating the value of offering school meals at no charge to all students. In order to overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic on children and families, and the financial challenges created by the pandemic for school nutrition departments, Healthy School Meals for All should remain the new normal for all schools across the country. This brief provides a case for why.

    Read the Brief
  • Advocacy Tool

    During the pandemic, the Pandemic EBT program has been a vital nutrition resource for families whose children lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. This gap extends to the summer as well. With the limited reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs, there is a need for a complementary program to provide EBT benefits during the summer. This storybook gives a brief background of Pandemic EBT and Summer EBT, what actions are needed to make a Summer EBT program permanent, and, as told in the words of people who benefit from federal nutrition assistance, why this is so important.

    Explore the Advocacy Tool
  • Report

    This report explores the impact of COVID-19 on access to meals and snacks when schools shuttered during the pandemic by analyzing March, April, and May 2020 meal service data for the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which includes the meals and snacks served through the Seamless Summer Option, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Afterschool Supper and Snack Programs through the Child and Adult Care Food Program, compared to participation in SBP and NSLP, and the Afterschool Supper and Snack Programs during the same months in 2019. For an in-depth look at April 2020, please see the Food Research & Action Center’s April 2020: A Snapshot of Participation During COVID-19.

    Read the report
  • Guide

    As communities continue to recover from COVID-19, school districts, out-of-school time program providers, and community partners have an important role to play in ensuring that all children have access to nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and afterschool snacks and suppers during the upcoming school year. While there are still many unknowns when it comes to the 2021–2022 school year — including what the school day will look like in every district — the recent extension of key nationwide waivers provides school districts and community sponsors much-needed consistency and time to plan for success. This resource provides information on options available for serving meals in the 2021–2022 school year as well as a checklist to guide program implementation. This will be updated as more information is available.

    Explore the Guide
Taking Action
Plan of Action to End Hunger in America
There can be no more excuses for hunger in this country. In our A Plan of Action to End Hunger in America, we recommend eight strategies to reduce the suffering and unnecessary costs caused by struggles with hunger, poverty, and reduced opportunity.