Fact Sheet Food Insecurity Fell Nearly 30 Percent between Spring 2020 and 2021
Elaine Waxman, Poonam Gupta
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Data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey show that household food insecurity fell by nearly 30 percent between spring 2020 and 2021. In the first few weeks of the pandemic shutdown in March/April 2020, more than 1 in 5 adults (21.7 percent) ages 18 to 64 reported experiencing food insecurity in the past 30 days. By April 2021, this share had declined to 15.3 percent, or approximately 1 in 7.

This downward trend was apparent across all racial and ethnic groups; however, worrisome disparities persisted among communities of color, with Hispanic/Latinx adults reporting the highest rates of food insecurity in the past 30 days in April 2021. Nutrition policy changes, including increasing the maximum SNAP benefit, facilitating broader access to school meal programs, and implementing the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program helped provide a buffer for families struggling to afford an adequate diet. More broadly, enhanced unemployment benefits and periodic economic impact payments (stimulus checks or recovery rebates) have provided households with additional resources that can help meet basic needs.

Research Areas Health and health care Families Social safety net Race and equity Children and youth
Tags Families with low incomes Hunger and food assistance Racial and ethnic disparities Economic well-being Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) School breakfast and lunch From Safety Net to Solid Ground Social determinants of health Racial barriers to accessing the safety net Racial inequities in health
Policy Centers Health Policy Center Income and Benefits Policy Center