Hunger and food insecurity affect people of all ages, races, and genders. Hunger is a year-round problem that touches every community in Cook County, every neighborhood in Chicago. Hundreds of thousands of people face hunger every year – but even one is too many.
What Is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. People who are food insecure struggle to avoid hunger, a more narrow physiological condition.
The majority of our neighbors facing food insecurity are children, older adults and working families. For some people, food insecurity may be a temporary challenge caused by job loss, illness or other short-term setback. Many Americans are only one paycheck away from facing food insecurity.
Hunger vs. Food Insecurity
Hunger is what you feel when you don’t have enough to eat. Food insecurity is the set of circumstances that prevent your access to food.
Food Insecurity Facts
- According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap Study, one in seven people in Cook County will experience food insecurity this year.
- Food insecurity varies greatly across the county. In some communities, more than half of all residents are food insecure.
- Food insecurity is usually episodic and often cyclical. People may require assistance a single time, for a few months, or on a more regular basis.
- There is no one face of food insecurity. The need varies among children, older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, the working poor, and others, as does the best way of reaching them.
- Making tradeoff decisions between paying for food and other basic needs such as medical bills and housing is common among individuals and families who turn to us for food.
- Many food insecure households do not qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs. Learn more about our work to advocate for federal nutrition assistance programs.