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1 in 4 adults in our region report being food insecure

Sep 30, 2017

Download the report here and the data tables here.

Access to a variety of nutritious food is important for the health of both children and adults. For some, food is not easily accessible. This is called food insecurity, and may include both reduced food intake or reduced quality and variety in diet.1 Adults who experience food insecurity are at increased risk for poor overall health and chronic diseases.2

The 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) assessed the food security of the region by asking Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky adults whether they agreed or disagreed with two statements:

1. Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.
2. Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, families who answer yes to one or both of these questions are likely to be food insecure.3

Food insecurity varies by location

About 1 in 4 adults in our region (24%) have experienced food insecurity in the past year. This includes 1 in 10 adults (8%) who answered yes to one food insecurity question, and more than 1 in 10 (15%) who answered yes to both questions.

This percentage is higher in certain areas within the region. About 3 in 10 adults living in the city of Cincinnati (31%), Kentucky counties4 (28%) and rural Indiana5 (27%) are likely to be food insecure. This compares with 2 in 10 adults in Hamilton County suburbs (22%), suburban Ohio counties6 (19%), and rural Ohio counties7 (22%).

Income plays a role in food insecurity

Food security is closely linked to income. More than 6 in 10 adults earning 100% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)8 (64%) have experienced food insecurity in the past year, compared with 4 in 10 adults earning 100% to 200% FPG (36%), and 1 in 10 earning more than 200% FPG (10%)

Younger adults, African Americans more likely to report food insecurity

Adults ages 65 and older are less likely than those younger than 65 to experience food insecurity. Nearly 3 in 10 adults younger than 65 (26%) answered yes to one or both questions, compared with fewer than 2 in 10 adults ages 65 and older (15%).

African American adults (38%) are about twice as likely as White adults (21%) to have experienced food insecurity in the last year.


1 United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (2016). Definitions of Food Security. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2nkSgcW.

2 Gregory, C.A. and Coleman-Jensen, A. (2017). Food insecurity, chronic disease, and health among working age adults. ERR-235, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

3 Hager, E. R., Quigg, A. M., Black, M. M., Coleman, S. M., Heeren, T., Rose-Jacobs, R., . . . Frank, D. A. (2010, July). Development and Validity of a 2-Item Screen to Identify Families at Risk for Food Insecurity. Pediatrics, 126(1), 26-32.

4 Boone, Campbell, Grant, Kenton, Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties.

5 Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties.

6 Butler, Clinton and Warren counties.

7 Adams, Brown, Clermont and Highland counties.

8 In 2015, 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) was $24,250 for a family of four; 200% FPG was $48,500.

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