| WASHINGTON, Sept 3
WASHINGTON, Sept 3 The percentage of Americans
regarded as "food insecure" - lacking access to enough food for
a healthy life - has declined in the past few years but still
represents over 17 million households, the U.S. Agriculture
Department said on Wednesday.
About 14.3 percent of households were termed food insecure
in 2013, down from 14.9 percent in 2011.
Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the
national average in households with incomes near or below the
poverty line, those headed by single women or single men, and
those headed by blacks and Hispanics, USDA's Economic Research
Service said in an annual report.
Food insecurity was also more common in large cities and
rural areas than in suburban and exurban areas.
Although the prevalence of sporadic food insecurity has
fallen, the number of households with very low food security is
persistent, USDA said, even as the U.S. economy has moved on
from a severe recession that ended in 2009 and the job market
has slowly recovered.
Some 5.6 percent, or 6.8 million households, had very low
food security in 2013, meaning that the food intake of some
household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were
disrupted at times due to limited resources.
USDA said children, though, are usually shielded from the
disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake that
characterize very low food security.
Among states, the rates of very low food security in 2013
ranged from 3.1 percent in North Dakota to 8.4 percent in
Almost two-thirds of food-insecure households surveyed by
USDA reported that in the previous month they had participated
in federal food and nutrition programs such as the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food
About 46.2 million Americans - many of them children or the
elderly - are currently enrolled in SNAP, down slightly from a
peak of almost 47.8 million, in December 2012.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)