Food Insecurity Across America

by Louis Bach, Communications

Check out the food insecurity map created by Feeding America, which visualizes the USDA’s measure of households that lack access to nutritionally adequate food. (Food insecurity, in other words, means that a household sometimes goes hungry because it is forced to make trade-offs between food and other basic needs, such as medical care.) In 2009, Wayne County had over 470,000 food-insecure residents, 30% of whom did not qualify for federal food assistance. Wayne’s 22.7% food insecurity rate is higher than Michigan’s (19.0%) and the nation’s (16.6%). Interestingly, the child food insecurity rate is much higher than the overall food insecurity rate nationwide (23.2% vs. 16.6%) and statewide (24.8% vs. 19.0%) but not in Wayne (22.8% vs. 22.7%).

These statistics reflect on the economic causes of inadequate nutrition that persist even in areas that are not considered “food deserts.” Two new studies have shown that the relationship between poor nutritional outcomes (e.g., obesity) and the lack of access to fresh food is murkier than previously thought. This map reminds us that many food-insecure Americans live in rural areas, not just urban food deserts.