USDA: 17M Families Struggled for Food in 2009

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The number of Americans without enough food for an active, healthy life remains at a record high.

According to a new report by The U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 15 percent of households in America did not have enough food at some point during 2009.

The USDA also found that 5.6 million of these households had chronic problems throughout the year that severely disrupted normal eating patterns. Between 500,000 and 1 million of the people affected in the homes were children. That includes nearly 6 percent with very low food security because of a lack of finances or other resources.

The rates for last year were essentially unchanged from 2008.

"It's a considerable reflection of what is going on in the economy," said Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, told The Washington Post.

Concannon said he was somewhat hopeful since the number of families suffering from hunger and nutrition problems stabilized last year even though the population of unemployed Americans rose from 9 million in 2008 to 14 million in 2009.

Federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month before the 2009 survey helped 57 percent of households without enough food.

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