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Food Security in Virginia

"Hunger in Virginia is a solvable problem." - Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger, 2020

What is food security?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines household food security as "access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum:

  • The ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
  • Assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).

In contrast, the USDA defines food insecurity as "the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways."

(Definitions retrieved 11/16/2020 from USDA Economic Research Service)

Is there food insecurity in Virginia?

In 2018, there were 842,870 food insecure Virginians, according to Feeding America's interactive data map. That is a rate of 9.9%. Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 has devastatingly impacted food security in Virginia. Early research from the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research estimated that Virginia's food insecurity rose 12.5 percentage points to 22.5% (or more than one in five people) during the April-May 2020 timeframe. The Virginia SNAP-Ed Food Security Survey found that 58% of households reported they did not have money to buy enough food and children in 29% of households were not eating enough as a result.

What is the impact of food insecurity?

Food insecurity, and hunger, have far reaching implications. Hunger and poor nutrition lead to poor health outcomes, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Work and academic performance can suffer due to food insecurity. Feeding America describes in more detail the consequences of hunger.

Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger

In October 2020, Governor Northam released the inaugural Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger. The Roadmap, developed in partnership with Children's Cabinet, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks and the Virginia Department of Social Services is a unified set of goals and strategies which prioritize food security to ensure consistent, reliable access to food.

Click here for more resources and efforts to eradicate hunger in Virginia »