Food Security

-0.6

Access to healthy food remains below U.S. and New England averages

No significant movement since the last available data

Benchmark: Maine’s percentage of food insecure households will decline to the U.S. average by 2030.

Overview Fig. A

Overview

Food insecurity has broad negative impacts on health, child development, education outcomes, and productivity. Food insecure households have disrupted eating patterns, reduced food intake, and reduced quality or variety of diet.

About 1 in 9 Maine households (11.4%) were food insecure in 2018-2020, down from 12.0% in 2017-2019 but above the national average of 1 in 10 and the New England unweighted average of 1 in 11. According to Feeding America, 2019 food insecurity ranged from 10% in Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York counties to 17% in Piscataquis and Somerset.

Food insecurity usually rises during economic downturns. During the Great Recession, the percentage of food insecure U.S. households grew from 11.1% in 2007 to 14.6% in 2008. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the percentage of food-insecure households nationwide was unchanged in 2020. Federal stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and changes to nutrition assistance programs may have helped some households pay grocery bills. However, food insecurity in households with children rose from 6.5% to 7.6%.

Fig. A

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Food Insecure Households (3-year average)

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Feeding America