Food insecurity? Hunger?

school lunchIt was quite controversial several years ago when the USDA changed the language it used to discuss food security.  They took out the word HUNGER.  As you can imagine, organizations that work in the hunger arena were horrified. And outraged.  Politically, it meant that they lost a compelling word.  Think about it–

24% of children in So-and-so county experience very low food security.

Now think about:

24 of children in So-and-so county are hungry.

They, in this case, mean the same thing. It was the same score using the same instrument.  But which one makes you feel the need to do something?

Don’t let the language fool you.  Insufficient access to enough food, both in terms of quantity and variety, is still an issue for children, the elderly, and the unlucky.  Check out your knowledge about hunger using this interaction tool or read through Feeding America’s facts.

Let us know if you do anything to support anti-hunger programs in your community in the comments.

This post is in support of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Kids Eat Right Month.


5 thoughts on “Food insecurity? Hunger?

  1. I actually just watched a documentary today called “A Place at the Table”, in which the whole “food security” topic was brought to the forefront & debated.
    While I didn’t write about the change of words from hunger to “food insecurity”, I did find it quite strange, while watching the doc. that the phrase food insecurity was being used. It does subconsciously evoke a lesser emotional response, vs. when the word “Hunger” is used. Great post by the way! I’m also trying to bring awareness to the hunger problem in America.

    • Yes, I’ve heard it’s a good documentary but haven’t managed to watch it. Within the nutrition community, the technical difference is often explained as the physical sensation (“hunger”) versus the perception that one will have enough food (like, security blanket). Thanks for commenting.

  2. No they don’t mean the same thing. A writer would utilize the difference between the two to describe a character’s view of the world. The hungry advocates have a reason to be outraged. Or should I say they are just upset and they mean the same thing? The right wordsmith or keeper of the key to where food goes wants to belittle the suffering of others.

  3. In this case, the USDA has a standard tool they use to assess food insecurity through a series of questions. While the literary meaning of the terms is different (and even the physiological/social science meanings), the category was renamed (specifically from food insecurity with hunger to very low food insecurity). So, in terms of the primary data, they are the same.

    I apologize if I didn’t provide enough context for you to follow the post.

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