Despite efforts, food insecurity in U.S. remains stubbornly static

New report outlines recommendations

A recently released literature review by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire attempts to untangle the relationships between different elements of food security and to identify the role that each component plays in producing food-secure populations, and in turn, healthy, well-nourished families and children.

The Intersection of Food Availability, Access, & Affordability with Food Security and Health was written by Research Assistant Professor Jess Carson, Ph.D and Policy Analyist Sarah Boege, M.P.P., with support from the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation.

Addressing food insecurity is among the Foundation’s priority areas and tops its responsive grantmaking activities.

The Carsey report noted, “Food insecurity is a complex and enduring challenge facing families in the United States and in New Hampshire, which has only become more pervasive during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Historically efforts to ameliorate food insecurity have focused on expanding food availability by siting new retailers in underserved communities or making food more affordable by subsidizing purchases for low-income people. Yet despite these efforts, food insecurity has remained stubbornly static, the Carsey research found.

New Hampshire, for example, has the lowest food insecurity rate in the nation, but even here, rates have remained between 7 and 10 percent across the last decade.

Amid the 2020 pandemic, which has triggered greater food insufficiency and constricted family, public, and philanthropic resources, it is increasingly urgent to direct those resources in effective, evidence-informed ways, the Carsey review emphasized.

Among its findings, the report noted that, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is clearly linked to reduced food insecurity and better health. Participation and higher benefits are also associated with reduced health care expenditures and reduced hospital utilization.”

The Intersection of Food Availability, Access, & Affordability with Food Security and Health, including its recommendations for policy makers, philanthropists and practitioners, may be downloaded here.