Hunger has grown sharply since the financial collapse of 2008, although it is felt acutely by a relatively small percentage of the population. In 2007, 12.2 percent of Americans experienced what the Department of Agriculture describes as “low food security,” including 4 percent who fell into the category of very low food security. By 2011, the percentage of those coping with low food security rose to 16.4 percent, and those experiencing very low food security went up to 5.5 percent.
The U.S.D.A. defines “low food security” as a lack of access “at all times to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life.” It defines “very low food security” as individuals going without or with very little food “at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.”
Looked at through the calculus of contemporary partisan politics, the U.S.D.A. data demonstrates that in 2011 low food security was a problem for just under one in eight whites — a matter of concern but for many white voters, a virtually invisible issue. Very low food security affects the lives of only one in 24 whites.For African Americans, low food security is a problem affecting one in four, and one in ten experience very low food security. The percentage of Hispanics who experience low food security is higher than the percentage of blacks, although the percentage of Hispanics suffering very low food security is slightly lower.
Cf. Susie Madrak, Why Can’t Democrats Talk About Poverty? for more on this.