Some 17.6 million U.S. households had trouble feeding their family members at times last year as “food insecurity” remained at near-record levels for the fifth straight year, according to a government report released Wednesday.
More than one-third of these households – 7 million – suffered from “very low food security,” in which usual eating patterns were disrupted and consumption was reduced because of a lack of money and access to food.
In all, 49 million Americans didn’t know where their next meals would come from at some point in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.
While the numbers show a slight improvement over 2011, the differences weren’t statistically significant, the report found. The level of food hardship in the U.S. remained high last year in the aftermath of the Great Recession, in which more than 8 million Americans lost their jobs.
The fact that 49 million people in this country continue to struggle to put food on the table is unconscionable,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, the president of Bread for the World, a Washington-based anti-hunger organization.