Monday, November 16, 2009

Food security in suburbs higher than in nonmetro areas, central cities

Today's New York Times reports that "food insecurity" rose in 2008 to 14.6%, the highest it has been since the USDA began surveying this issue in 1995. Last year, for example, the rate of food insecurity was 11.1%. The rise to 14.6% for 2008 represents an increase of about 4 million households to a total of 17 million food insecure households.

Food insecurity is USDA's term of art for hunger--more specifically, it is defined as a household having “difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year.” Food security means having "access at all time to enough food for an active, healthy life." (See p. 3 at this link). Further, the "number of households in which both adults and children experienced 'very low food security' rose by more than half, to 506,000 in 2008 from 323,000 in 2007." Very low food security is defined as "at time during the year, food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns disrupted because the household lacked money or other resources for food." (See p. 5 here).

I clicked over to see the full report because I wanted to get a sense of geographic and demographic trends. I found that places outside metropolitan areas had the lowest rate of food insecurity. Food security was highest for households located in "principal cities" at 17.9%; "intermediate" for those in nonmetropolitan areas at 14.2%; and lowest in the suburbs at 12.7%. Read more here (pp. 10-11). The part also reports that food insecurity is highest in the South and lowest in the Northeast. Black and Hispanic households had significantly higher rates of food insecurity than did White households, but stronger predictors of food insecurity were (1) poverty and (2) single parent households with children present. (p. 8). For more data specifically on the situation of households with children, click here.

No comments: