The Number of Hungry Americans Has Barely Fallen Since the Recession

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 3 2014 7:06 PM

The Number of Hungry Americans Has Barely Fallen Since the Recession

97734872-people-wait-in-line-at-the-food-pantry-at-st-augustines
People wait in line at the food pantry at St. Augustine's Church in New York.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Here’s your reminder that, in the United States, reigning global power, there are still millions of people who have trouble getting enough to eat.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produces a report on hunger in the U.S. And much like the poverty rate, the fraction of Americans who have difficulty putting meals on the table has stayed stubbornly high since the recession. The latest version finds that for six straight years now, more than 14 percent of households have suffered from “food insecurity”—meaning that they had at least some problems affording food but didn’t necessarily go hungry. Over that time, however, more than 5 percent suffered “very low food security”—meaning someone in the home either had to eat less than they wanted or skipped meals entirely. Those households facing actual hunger included 17.1 million people in 2013, barely changed since 2008, when the number skyrocketed to about 17.3 million thanks to the recession.

food_sec_1
Advertisement

The good news about food insecurity in the U.S., insofar as there is any, is that it’s rarely chronic. Poor families often have trouble buying food during a particularly lean time of the year, or at the end of a month, when their food stamp benefits tend to run low. But most of the time, they’re able to feed themselves. On a given day, only an estimated 1.1 percent of households actually have to cut back on their food.

food_sec_2

Still, that makes it no less a shame that so many families face the threat of hunger in a country this rich.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 11:36 AM Breaking Up Countries Is Still Hard to Do
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 19 2014 11:37 AM Why Urban Outfitters and Other Brands Troll Their Customers
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 19 2014 11:32 AM Why Do Pirates Talk Like That?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM The Curious Incident of the Supernova in the Nighttime
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.