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Food Insecurity

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Annie Costa
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Welcome! This research guide aims to define food insecurity and introduce closely related concepts at the national, and global levels. Use the tabs across the side of this guide to navigate.


What is Food Security/Insecurity?

"What Is Food Security?

Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum:

  • The ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
  • Assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).

...and Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways."

-US Department of Agriculture

How is Food Insecurity Measured?

USDA's Ranges:

Food Security

  • High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
  • Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications--typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.

Food Insecurity

  • Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.




Percentage of U.S. households reporting indicators of adult food insecurity in 2021

Brought to you by USDA's Economic Research Service