Food Insecurity Trended Upward in Midst of High Inflation and Fewer Supports

Woman in a pantry with a box of food.

Rates of food insecurity increased significantly between 2021 and 2022, after declining between 2020 and 2021.

 

 

The Issue

States and the federal government offered additional supports to families during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including universal free school meals and enhanced nutrition benefits. The expiration of several of these programs in 2022, combined with rising consumer prices, means families likely have less money to spend on food.

Key Findings

  • More than one in five (21.6%) adults in the United States reported household food insecurity in the summer of 2022, an increase of more than 6% from April 2021.

  • Food insecurity rates among Black and Hispanic adults (29.2% and 32.3%) were measurably higher than among their White counterparts (17.3%).

  • Nearly one in four (23.9%) adults who are parents or guardians of children under 19 living with them reported that their household was food insecure.

  • Adults who reported employment (17.3%) reported lower rates of food insecurity than those who reported they were not working (30.8%).

Conclusion

Families’ ability to consistently afford a nutritiously adequate diet eroded considerably between 2021 and 2022. Researchers recommend policymakers closely monitor challenges that families may be facing and assess tools that may be available to help buffer food hardship in an era of record inflation and expiring safety net supports.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.