Priority Area: Food Security

more food-secure households by 2030
Increase access to healthier food options in underserved communities by strengthening existing initiatives and establishing new partnerships.
LA Rate
US Rate
Food Insecurity is the inability to provide adequate food for one or more household members due to lack of resources. For Louisiana, a 4.1% decrease is required to meet the national average (AHR).

Success Measures

Percentage of households with food insecurity

2020 Baseline
2021 Actual
2022 Actual
2030 Target
In Louisiana...
1 in 7 People
face hunger
1 in 5 Children
face hunger
Source: Feeding America
In America...
health-related costs attributed to hunger were conservatively estimated at $160 billion nationally in 2014.
a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that food insecure adults had annual health care expenditures $1,834 higher than food secure adults.
Source: Food Insecurity (AHR) America's Health Rankings
Who is affected most?
Food insecurity is an economic and social condition. Those most affected include low-income families and social disadvantages resulting from structural racism, lack of affordable housing, high medical costs, and low wages.
2 x Higher
in Hispanic and Black than in Non-Hispanic White households
Lower-income households
compared to higher-income households
Households with children
particularly children ages 0-5, compared to households without children
Single adult households
particularly a single woman, compared to households with multiple adults
Source: Food Insecurity (AHR) America's Health Rankings

What works?

SNAP: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty in 2017. Despite this success, it is estimated that 27% of food-insecure individuals live in a household that does not qualify for SNAP. Households that lose SNAP benefits due to an increase in income have a higher prevalence of household food insecurity. See below for more information on SNAP and SNAP enrollment.

of households receiving SNAP benefits have children
Source: Feeding America

WIC: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides food and nutritional support for children and pregnant and postpartum women. 

School Lunch and Breakfast Programs: The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) provide free or low-cost meals to students at school. These programs have been shown to reduce food insecurity, improve the quality of students’ diets and improve school performance.

Food Banks: Local food banks provide free food to those in need.

In 2021, the American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit, resulting in direct payments of $250-$300 per month to families who qualified. Research indicates that the initial payments from this tax credit reduced food insufficiency among low-income households with children.

Why does this matter?

Food insecurity is an economic and social condition where one’s regular access to food is limited or uncertain. It differs from hunger in that hunger is a physiological feeling. Food insecurity is a complex problem and does not exist in isolation for low-income families. Many food-insecure families also struggle with issues like disadvantages resulting from structural racism, lack of affordable housing, high medical costs and low wages. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated food insecurity. 

Food insecurity has broad effects on health due to the mental and physical stress it places on the body. Children are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of food insecurity because their brains and bodies are still developing. Among children, food insecurity is associated with anemia, asthma, depression and anxiety, cognitive and behavioral problems and a higher risk of being hospitalized.

People of color are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity due to impacts of systematic racism and discrimination. Food insecurity among Blacks and seniors was more than double that of White seniors. Food insecurity among Hispanic people was double that of non-Hispanic peoples. People below the poverty line, those with disabilities, people who are divorced and separated, and those who live in non-metro areas are also more likely to be affected. (Feeding America)

In my community
Children and Food Security
  • Louisiana has the highest rate of food insecure children (Stacker)
  • Too many children in Louisiana experience hunger daily. In Louisiana, 640,540 people are facing hunger, including 1 in 5 children (Feeding America)
  • Free school meals will decrease the number of children who face hunger in Louisiana and improve the health of children. Louisiana should continue the free meal program initiated by the Federal government during the COVID pandemic that provide free meals to all students regardless of family income. Schools in Louisiana will be able to provide meals to all students if 40% or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches through the Community Eligibility Program of the Health Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Health Affairs)
  • Schools are the source of the healthiest food children eat during the day (JAMA)
  • Free or reduced-price school lunches reduces food insecurity by at least 3.8% (FRAC)
  • Children participating in free meals at school are less like to have nutritional deficiencies (FRAC)
  • Participation in school meal programs is associated with a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) among young, low-income children (FRAC)
  • Children who experience hunger have lower math and reading scores, and more behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues (FRAC)
  • Discovery on why schools that are eligible via the CEP waiver are not participating (USDA)
  • Food Insecurity — Helen R. Walton Children's Enrichment Center
Seniors and Food Security
Food Insecurity on College Campuses
  • Prior to the pandemic, a staggering 30 percent of all college students experienced food insecurity at some point in their college careers (Students Against Hunger)
  • College students in Louisiana are more likely to be hungry than the US rate (LBP)
  • There are significant racial and ethnic disparities – 70% Black compared to 54% of White students (Health Affairs)
  • Colleges with a coordinated plan, including food pantries, SNAP enrollment, meal-swipe sharing, and outreach activities, will see a decrease in the food insecurity rate among students (Health Affairs)
  • Research has shown that food insecurity for students has detrimental effects on academic performance (Health Affairs)
  • Students who are food insecure are more likely to experience stress and depression (Health Affairs)
  • Freshmen are especially vulnerable to food insecurity (Health Affairs)
  • Key contributing factors include: 1) financial insecurity, 2) housing insecurity, 3) work or family obligation, and 4) student loan debt (Health Affairs)
  • Barbara Freiberg (R-Baton Rouge) proposed House Bill 888 that would notify students who qualify for needs-based financial aid to receive notification that they may also be eligible for SNAP
  • Many two- and four-year institutions have a website where students can access SNAP enrollment assistance, but there are many strict regulations such as working 20 hours per week many college students do not meet (Health Affairs)
SNAP Program Access
Louisiana's rate of participation in SNAP
Who is affected most?
Children, seniors, communities of color, rural communities, and women (Feeding Louisiana)
  • Increasing the numbers of Louisianians enrolled in SNAP will decrease the food insecurity rate
  • Research suggests that SNAP reduces the likelihood of being food insecure by about 30% (USDA)
  • Additional research has shown even larger impacts on the children’s food security, with rates falling by about 33% (FRAC)
  • Households must meet the Maximum Gross Monthly Income Standard of 200% and the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) instead of just the FPL
  • Align with Louisiana Budget on SNAP strategies including 1) Raising gross income threshold for SNAP (LA is one of 18 states with basic gross income threshold), 2) Raise  gross income threshold to 200% (LA Budget)
Where do I find out more?
SNAP Eligibility Guidelines: DCFS
Apply for SNAP: DCFS
More information about SNAP: Feeding Louisiana
Download our Healthy State Fact Sheet on Food Security