UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Food Insecurity Indicators

USDA defines food secure households as those who have “access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.”  During the recent recession the USDA reported a 31% increase in the proportion of "food insecure" US households in the one-year period between 2008 and 2009. Household food insecurity rates at the national level have remained essentially unchanged since 2008. 

USDA also documents an increase in SNAP (food stamps), growing from about 26 million in 2006 to more than 47 million in 2012, an increase of over 75%.

It is not surprising that the incidence of food insecurity in these relatively prosperous states is lower than for the U.S. as a whole.  Similarly, the relative prosperity of the counties in St. Croix River valley means that fewer of their households are food insecure than is the case for their respective states.  Despite this, a survey done by the Survey Research Center at UW-River Falls found that among families in poverty in western Wisconsin:

  • 31 percent could not afford to provide their household with three meals per day at least once in the past year. 
  • More than half of the respondents could afford to buy and eat fresh fruits and vegetables every week
  • 45 percent used a food pantry or food shelf to supplement their groceries


These counties have also seen substantial increases in the use of SNAP (food stamps) in recent years.