How can a child focus on solving a math problem or memorizing a new word when she or he is trying to ignore the persistent pangs of hunger?

Across the country, teachers have found that in some instances, Monday morning comes and they are forced to compete against hunger for the attention of their students. More than 18 million children qualify for free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program. What happens to these children when they go home over the weekend?

Ten states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2000-2012:

United States                    14.7%

Mississippi                        20.9%

Arkansas                            19.7%

Texas                                  18.4%

Alabama                             17.9%

North Carolina                   17.0%

Georgia                               16.9%

Missouri                              16.7%

Nevada                                16.6%

Ohio                                      16.1%

California                             15.6%

How Many People, in the United States, Lived in Food-Insecure Households In 2012?

  • 49.0 million people lived in food-insecure households.
  • 12.4 million adults lived in households with very low food security.
  • 8.3 million children lived in food-insecure households in which children, along with adults, were food insecure.
  • 977,000 children (1.3 percent of the Nation's children) lived in households in which one or more child experienced very low food security

In 2012, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure. The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure increased in 2008 and remained at that level through 2012—the highest recorded percentage since national monitoring of food security began in 1995.

In 2012, the more severe range of food insecurity, described as very low food security, was unchanged from 5.7 percent in 2011. 

Food-secure households are those with consistent access throughout the year to adequate food for active healthy living for all household members. Food-insecure households lack that level of access at some time during the year.