Food Insecurity Definitions

In 2006, the USDA introduced new language to describe food security and insecurity.

Food Security

food bank photo

High food security: No reported indications of problems with food access and sufficiency.

Marginal food security: One or two reported indications of limited access to food or worry regarding the household food supply, but little or no change in variety, amount, or quality of dietary intake.

Food Insecurity

Low food security (formerly known as food insecurity without hunger): Three or more reported indications of food-access problems that resulted in diet quality reduction, but did not substantially affect the quantity of food or their normal eating patterns.

Very low food security (formerly known as food insecurity with hunger): Multiple reported indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.


Hunger is a physiological condition that an individual may experience as a result from food insecurity or an involuntary lack of food. The definition of hunger is a discomforting sensation that may result in weakness, illness, and/or pain. The current USDA food insecurity measure provides a context for the situations that may lead to or affect the experience of hunger.

Sources and More Information

Food Security in the United States: Definitions of Hunger and Food Security
Measurement of Food Security, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service

Attention Emergency Food Organizations

You can now add and update your organization / site information, please create account or login below to get started.



Forgot Password

Check out our NEW Indian themed food demonstration videos in the video library! Michelle Singleton, Purdue University Registered Dietitian and Assistant Director of Nutrition Education Program at the Co-Recreational Center, created a video on how to prepare newsletter recipes, Comfort Foods Redesigned: Spinach Mac & Cheese. Enjoy!

Did you miss the last IEFRN webinar about using the database and its resources? Review the recording here.

Curious about Food Policy Councils? This Purdue article by Dr. Heather A. Eicher-Miller and Briana Eicher examines the background, opportunities, and policy implications.

Help us update our database! We are currently calling all database members to update information, so you may receive a call from us sometime over the next few months. Remember that you can always update your own information online by creating a free account.