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Anti-hunger advocates eye latest food insecurity data

Kimberly Adams Sep 4, 2019
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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release its annual report Wednesday on “Household Food Security in the U.S.” It uses a variety of measures to gauge household food insecurity, such as whether people have had to skip a meal or reduce the size of a meal for financial reasons.

Craig Gundersen, an economics professor at the University of Illinois, said food insecurity is an important economic indicator. “I think it’s a better measure than the unemployment rate, it’s a better measure than the poverty rate, because it really displays those who are really, really struggling,” he said.

Trends in prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security in U.S. households, 1995-2017

The 2018 Food Security report comes from the USDA as the Trump administration is pushing for several changes to federal food assistance that would limit the number of people eligible for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Trump administration says the proposed rules would close loopholes in federal food aid.

But anti-hunger advocates have objected to the proposed rules.
“If they adopt them,” said Jim Weill at the Food Research and Action Center, “we expect those rules to have a really negative effect on food security rates and drive a lot of people into food insecurity.”

The latest proposal is open for public comment until Sept. 23, and already has more than 44,000 comments.

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