Many hunger and anti-poverty advocates were not surprised by the higher numbers given the economic recession.
From this Associated Press story that we found at Oregon Live, we read more stats from the survey as well as some quotes from the head of the USDA.
That's 14.6 percent of U.S. households, or about 49 million people. The numbers are a significant increase from 2007, when 11.1 percent of U.S. households suffered from what USDA classifies as "food insecurity" -- not having enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the numbers could be higher in 2009 because of the global economic slowdown.
"This report suggests its time for America to get very serious about food security and hunger," Vilsack told reporters during a conference call.
The USDA said Monday that 5.7 percent of those who struggled for food experienced "very low food security," meaning household members reduced their food intake.
The numbers dovetail with dire economic conditions for many Americans. And they may not take the full measure of America's current struggles with hunger: Vilsack and the report's lead author, Mark Nord with USDA's economic research service, both emphasized that the numbers reflected the situation in 2008 and that the economy's continued troubles in 2009 would likely mean higher numbers next year.
The report also showed an increasing number of children in the United States are suffering food insecurity. In 2008, 16.7 million children were classified as food insecure, 4.3 million more than in 2007.