According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.9 percent of American households were “food insecure” last year, meaning they had trouble at some point during the year providing enough food for all of the household’s members. 6.8 million households, meanwhile, had very low food security:
– In 2011, 85.1 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.9 percent (17.9 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The change from the 2010 estimate (14.5 percent) was not statistically significant, meaning that the difference may be due to sampling variation.
— In 2011, 5.7 percent of U.S. households (6.8 million households and one-third of all food-insecure households) had very low food security. In these households, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. The prevalence of very low food security returned to the level observed in 2008 and 2009, a statistically significant increase from the 5.4-percent level of 2010.
These numbers make clear that, though the Great Recession is officially over, its effects are still being felt by households across the country. Reflecting the continued tough economic times, food stamp usage hit a record high in June.
Republicans — who approved a budget that would have thrown millions of people off of food stamps — have used the numbers to claim that food stamps are on an “unsustainable” trajectory. “Washington needs to have a grown-up conversation about the unchecked pace of food stamp enrollment,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in a statement yesterday.
However, food stamp spending only increased (to a miniscule 0.52 percent of the economy) as a result of the recession, and is on pace to return to its normal level as the economy strengthens:
According to Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Donna Cooper, the cuts to food stamps that Republicans favor would “force America’s poorest families to forgo as many as 8.2 billion meals a year.” In the meantime, the GOP is using hungry families as a disingenuous example of government run amok.