Food insecurity in America held relatively steady in 2021 at 10.2%, a rate that was not significantly different from the 10.5% rate recorded the previous two years, the Agriculture Department reported Wednesday.

But there was some notable improvement in 2021 among children. Some 6.2% of kids in households with children were food insecure last year, down from 7.6% in 2020, according to USDA’s annual survey of food security.

Food insecurity also declined among Black households and households in the South.

Individuals and households are considered food insecure if they had difficulty getting enough food at some point during the year. People are considered to have very low food security if their normal eating patterns were disrupted by a lack of resources.

Some 3.8% of households were classified as having very low food security last year, compared to 3.9% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2019. The prevalence of very low security was much higher in some groups. Some 8% of households that had children and were headed by a single female experienced very low food security as did 6% of women living alone and 5.9% of men living by themselves.

The prevalence of food insecurity increased last year among a few groups, including households with no children and among women and elderly people who were living alone.

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The typical food-secure household spends 16% more for food than food-insecure families, USDA found. About 56% of the food-insecure households reported participating in at least one federal nutrition program, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — also known as WIC — and the National School Lunch Program.

USDA collects data on food security annually through a survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

"The prevalence of food insecurity is determined by many factors, including the economy, Federal, State, and local policies, and household circumstances,” a summary of the report says.

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