The latest food security data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that the food insecurity rate has continues to fall but still has not reached pre-recession levels. Nation-wide, 13.7% of households were food insecure in 2015, a significant decline from the 2014 rate of 15.4%. The number still remains above the pre-recession food insecurity rate of 12.2% in 2008. The most recent numbers represent 42.2 million Americans struggling to put enough food on the table last year. Across states the prevalence of food insecurity varied quite a bit among states; North Dakota was the lowest at 8.5% and Mississippi coming in highest at 20.8%.
In Washington state, we have continued to track with national trends. In 2015, 12.9% of Washington households were food insecure, also an improvement over the 2014 rate at 13.7%. This continues the downward trend in food insecurity as the economy continues to improve, but as with national rates remains above the 2008 level at 11.1%. It also represents a true decrease in the number of households in this category, even with considering population growth. There were 356,500 households food insecure in 2015, compared with 371,500 in 2014.
In Washington state and across the country we continue to see slow but steady improvements in food insecurity, year after year. But we still have work to do to get back to where we were before the recession hit, and to ambitiously push beyond that until all of our neighbors have the food they need.