Survey: Young adults face higher rates of food insecurity

Gen Z adults were nearly twice as likely to have experienced food insecurity in the first half of 2022 than other adults, according to a report by Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability. Among these adults — born after 1996, around the age of 18 to 26 — 30 percent have experienced food insecurity, according to the analysis, which is based on monthly surveys of 1,200 adults.

The report, released last week, says about 17-19% of millennials and Gen Xers said they faced food insecurity over the same six-month period, compared to just 7% of people. born before 1965 (called Boomers+ in the survey).

Overall, the number of people reporting food insecurity in these surveys has remained between 14 and 16 percent since January. Based on these reports, the authors estimated the national rate of food insecurity at 16 percent.

Gen Z households were the most likely to report getting groceries from a food pantry or other charity, with three in 10 relying on the charity food system, compared to just 8% of Boomer+ households .

“Those who are younger tend to have lower incomes, so the results are not necessarily surprising, but we have to pay attention. Food inflation is outpacing wage growth, and it’s hitting those with the lowest incomes the hardest,” said Jayson Lusk, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University and director of the center, in A press release.

The report also revealed that food took a large and growing share of low-income household budgets in June; those earning less than $50,000 spent a larger share of their income on food in June compared to previous months.

Spending on food has increased by around 15% overall since January; in June, respondents reported spending $119 per week on food eaten at home and an additional $67 per week on restaurants and takeout.

Zoomers and Millennials also reported being more aware consumers than older generations; they were more likely than their older counterparts to report choosing cage-free eggs, wild rather than farmed fish, plant-based protein and organic foods, and also more likely to report trying to reduce the food waste at home.

The survey also asked respondents about the attributes they prioritize when shopping for food – all generations place high importance on affordability, taste and nutrition. Gen Z and Millennials ranked environmental impact and social responsibility as nearly twice as important as Baby Boomers+.

Respondents also noted the reliability of food information sources such as federal agencies, media, doctors and some food companies. Primary care physicians were rated the most trustworthy by all age groups, followed by the FDA, although trust has fallen 20% in the past month, the report notes. Overall, McDonald’s was rated the least trusted news source, and The New York Times and CNN were also rated as untrustworthy.

The survey also measured respondents’ support for a range of food policies. Increasing funding for agricultural research to develop crops that are more resistant to heat, drought and floods received the most support with more than three-quarters of each group ranking it favourably. Increasing funding for the conservation program, expanding SNAP benefits, banning food advertising to children, regulating CAFOS, imposing a carbon tax on food producers, and extending citizenship to undocumented agricultural workers were all supported by more than half of the respondents. Support for fast food zoning laws and taxes on sugary drinks was weaker.

And, while 70% of those polled said they were very or somewhat worried about how the Russian-Ukrainian war could affect global food supplies, only a quarter said resolving the war should be a priority. absolute for the United States to ensure global food security. Instead, they favored increased American agricultural production and increase supply chain resilience.

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