In somewhat of a shocking report, it was estimated that around 17.4 million households struggled when it came to putting food on the table in 2014. This basically is 14 percent of households in the country who experienced a reduction in quality or a disruption in eating habits during at least one point in the year. This information is coming from the annual food security report that is released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the 2014 statistics are virtually the same as 2013, even though the economy has improved significantly over that time period. The unemployment rate also decreased from 8 percent in the beginning of 2013 to 5.6 percent in December of 2014. The United States Department of Agriculture always does this study every year at the end of December to ensure that the entire year has been accounted for. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom, Vilsack, said in a statement that the report is a good sign that there is not only recovery going on in the economy, but that also the economy is growing, even if it is slight. Food security right now is at the strongest level it has been since before the Great Recession started. Before the recession started, the annual total of households that had food insecurity was around 11 percent, which is quite a bit lower than the 14 percent we see today. In 2011, the food insecurity was really high in this country and it had peaked at 14.9 percent of all households.
Billy Shore, the founder of Share Our Strength, which is an anti-hunger non-profit organization, commented on the news. Shore said that while Wall Street has recovered, the auto industry has recovered, the hungry Americans in this country are still basically where they were at before. Nearly 80 percent of all people who had food insecurity said that the food they were buying did not last at least some point in the past year, and they did not have enough money to get more food. More than 75 percent of these people had also reported that they could not afford a healthy balanced meal. More parts of the report also showed the racial disparities when it came to the food insecurity. 10.5 percent of white households suffered from a food insecurity in 2014, while there was about 22 percent of Hispanic households who had food insecurity, and 26.1 percent of black households had food insecurity.
Naturally and obviously, households that had children were more at risk for food insecurity, with 19.2 percent of households that had a child under the age of 18 reporting a food insecurity at some point during the year. The report did suggest though that most parents were able to maintain a normal or near normal meal pattern and diets for their children, often times despite the fact the parents were food insecure. In terms of the children themselves, they were food insecure in about 9.4 percent of households. This showed that even in households where food insecurity happened, the parents were doing everything they could to ensure their children did not suffer from the food insecurities, meaning they would not eat or eat very little in order to keep their children fed on an almost normal schedule. This is exactly though what a lot of parents do and should do, because the parents will often put themselves out to ensure their child or children gets what they need, and even in a bad situation, this shows good parenting or at least they are trying as parents.
For a lot of households, the issue is more having access to the foods or the good foods as opposed to not having access to foods like what happens in third-world countries. Some households end up not having a car and this hinders their ability to get to the grocery store to buy food or having to wait for someone to pick them up in order to get the food. Other times, people who are on government assistance, only get paid once a month, so when the end of the month nears, typically that government money has already been spent. This means some households have to wait 5 to 7 days at the end of the month to get food since their government assistance only comes in at the first of each month.