Food Insecurity and Hunger Statistics by State

Issue Brief
January 15, 2008

January 15, 2008

Food insecurity is "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways." Some food insecure households are able to obtain enough food to avoid actually going hungry.

Hunger is the "uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food; the recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food."

(continued below table)

Percentage of all households experiencing food insecurity and hunger, by state, 2004-06
Food insecurityHunger
%ME (+/-)%ME (+/-)
Connecticut 8.6%0.952.7%0.46
Delaware 7.8%1.432.6%0.61
District of Columbia12.5%0.903.8%0.84
Florida 8.9%0.563.1%0.24
Hawaii 7.8%0.592.8%0.62
Illinois 9.8%0.853.5%0.34
Maryland 9.5%1.133.9%0.45
Massachusetts 8.1%0.833.0%0.47
Minnesota 8.2%0.943.2%0.48
Montana 9.9%1.444.3%0.59
Nebraska 9.5%1.683.8%0.71
Nevada 8.8%0.663.2%0.41
New Hampshire 7.4%0.942.2%0.38
New Jersey 7.7%0.872.1%0.41
New Mexico16.1%2.005.8%1.16
New York 9.8%0.473.2%0.26
North Carolina12.9%1.244.4%0.64
North Dakota 6.4%0.942.2%0.53
Oregon 11.9% 1.32 4.4% 0.82
Rhode Island11.3%1.263.7%0.65
South Carolina14.7%1.585.9%0.69
South Dakota 9.5%0.693.3%0.51
Vermont 9.6%1.294.3%0.88
Virginia 7.9%0.862.8%0.49
West Virginia 9.3%0.683.2%0.77
Wisconsin 8.9%0.992.7%0.44
United States 11.3% 0.26 3.9% 0.14
Note: Margins of error (ME) are reported at the 90 percent confidence level.
Source: "Household Food Security in the United States," ERR 49, USDA, Economic Research Service, November 2007.


Both hunger and food insecurity describe a condition experienced by households taken as a whole; individuals within these households may experience differing levels of deprivation. In households that are counted as experiencing hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "at times during the year, the food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money and other resources for food." In most cases, the survey respondent reported that at some time during the year he or she went hungry because there was not enough money for food.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated its use of the term hunger and instituted four categories representing a range of food security conditions: high, marginal, low, and very low food security.

OCPP continues to use hunger rather than very low food security, because hunger is a meaningful term for most members of the general public. In addition, Oregon statutes use the term hunger, stating that "All persons have the right to be free from hunger" and that "freedom from hunger means all persons have food security" (ORS 458.530(1)(b) and (c)). Under legislation that takes effect on January 1, 2008, the state sets the goal that "Oregon will rank among the top 10 states in providing food security without hunger by 2015" (HB 2073, 2007 session, section 2(1)(d)).

Sources: Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, Household Food Security in the United States, 2006, USDA, ERR 49, November 2007,; USDA, ERS, "Food Security in the United States: Hunger and Food Security," Briefing Room, November 15, 2006,; and Panel to Review U.S. Department of Agriculture's Measurement of Food Insecurity and Hunger, National Research Council, Measuring Food Insecurity and Hunger: Phase 1 Report (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005).

Related Materials

Related materials:

See all OCPP publications on hunger and food assistance.

Watch Making America Stronger: The U.S. Food Stamp Program (14 min. video)