Food Insecurity in the U.S.
What is Food Insecurity?
Food Insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as t he “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” There are four different food security categories one could find themselves in. The first is referred to as “high food security,” and these households have no issues with accessing nutritionally adequate and safe food. Households with “marginal food security” have problems at times with access to adequate foods, however, quality, variety, and quantity of their food intake were not substantially reduced. “Low food insecurity” households are ones that do experience a reduction in the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted. Lastly, “very low food security” households would be described as, at times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food.
Even though the issue of food insecurity is decreasing in the US, the numbers for 2016 are essentially unchanged from the previous year, with 12.3% (15.6 mil households) classified as living in low or very low food secure households. The number of US children affected by food insecurity at some point in the year is staggering, with almost 20% of food insecure households (3.1 mil households) having children living in the home in 2016.
A “food desert” is a geographical area where access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are either limited or nonexistent. This is heavily prevalent among rural and/ or impoverished areas, and the Southeast has some of the highest concentrations of food deserts. Unfortunately, the foods that are for purchase in food deserts are from local corner stores and gas stations, which are heavily supplied with processed foods and other unhealthy options. Not having access to healthy, adequate food is an immediate risk factor for preventative diseases and obesity.For more information on the topic and to find where there are food deserts in your state, follow this link.