About 15% of U.S. households — 17.4 million families — lacked enough money to feed themselves at some point last year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
Released Monday, the study also found that 5.6 million of these households — with as many as 1 million children — had ongoing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly.
The number of these "food insecure" homes, or households that had a tough time providing enough food for their members, stayed somewhat steady from 2008 to 2009. But that number was more than triple compared with 2006, before the recession brought double-digit unemployment.
The findings were from a survey of 46,000 households about various hunger-related issues, including whether family members were able to pay for balanced meals, skipping meals or running low on or out of food and unable to restock because of financial constraints.