Food Insecurity Research in the United States: Where We Have Been and Where We Need to Go
Food insecurity is now recognized as a major health crisis in the United States. This is due to the size of the problem—more than 42 million persons were food insecure in 2015—as well as the multiple negative health outcomes and higher health care costs attributable to food insecurity. An extensive body of literature from multiple fields has examined the causes and consequences of food insecurity and the efficacy of food assistance programs—especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. We review this literature and provide suggestions for future research directions. We suggest examining the distribution of food insecurity within households, the impact of the food distribution system on food insecurity, the coping mechanisms of low-income food secure families, food insecurity among American Indians, the effects of charitable food assistance, the causal relationship between food insecurity and health outcomes, the declining age gradient in food insecurity among Seniors, the effects of labor force participation and the Great Recession on food insecurity, and the long-term consequences of food insecurity. In addition, the impact of two recent policy recommendations on food insecurity – the minimum wage and the Affordable Care – Act should be considered.