Hunger and Food Insecurity in the United States


Capital Area Food Bank Hunger Report 2021

Feeding America

Facts about hunger in America

Every community in America has families that struggle with hunger. This Hunger Action Month, learn more about hunger in America.  

Difference between Food Insecurity and Hunger  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It is important to know that though hunger and food insecurity are closely related, they are distinct concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level.

Food insecurity does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping issues like lack of affordable housing, social isolation, chronic or acute health problems, high medical costs, and low wages. Taken together, these issues are important social determinants of health, defined as the “conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.[1]” Effective responses to food insecurity must address the overlapping challenges posed by the social determinants of health. Hunger + Health explores the impact of food insecurity as a social determinant of health and its effect on individual and population health outcomes.

Characteristics of Households with Very Low Food Security

Conditions reported by households with very low food security are compared with those reported by food-secure households and by households with low (but not very low) food security in the following chart:





"Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. Food insecurity is one way we can measure and assess the risk of hunger. In the United States currently, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger." (from Feeding America)