• Families reported more food insecurity when they were surveyed in August or September compared to April or December. Autumn, a traditional time of harvest and plenty, is not a time of relative abundance for people who struggle to have enough food.
• Researchers also measure the households with "very low food security." These families, 6.4 million households, or about 5.4 percent of the country, report actually reducing the amount of food they consume or disrupting normal eating patterns because they don't have enough food.
• Children are usually shielded from "very low food security," but need that was severe enough to cause disruptions in eating still affected 1 percent of American households with children in 2010, or about 386,000. Among families with children with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line, very low food security among children actually declined from 2.9 percent in 2009 to 2.1 percent in 2010.
• Families who have enough to eat spend about 27 percent more on food. This includes government help, indicating programs such as SNAP (food stamps) work as intended.
• Finally, the greatest share of households with food insecurity are headed by single moms, followed most closely by those headed by single dads. Single men and women rank next, followed by married couples. Food insecurity is a bigger problem in big cities and rural areas than in suburban areas.
Those of us fortunate enough to not worry about our next meal naturally tend to think about food drives and donations around the holidays. It is a time for reflection, gratitude and sharing.
But all this data reinforces what Frasure and other food program managers routinely say: Need exists all year, and for a variety of reasons, may even be more difficult to meet in summer, storm or no storm.
Miller, the Gazette's editorial page editor, can be reached at d...@wvgazette.com.