Food Insecurity vs Hunger:

Food Insecurity – is the inability to access food in a consistent and socially acceptable manner to meet the family’s nutritional needs.  Food insecurity is characterized by not having the financial means to buy or grow food, the need for emergency food assistance, and adults skipping meals.  Food insecurity exists when the availability of nutritionally adequate food or the ability to access it on a consistent basis is uncertain or limited.

Hunger – is the condition where both adults and children cannot access food consistently and have to reduce food intake, eat poor diets and often go without any food.  Hunger is the physiological effect of food insecurity and is also defined as the uneasy or painful sensation that is caused by a lack of food.

More Food Security & Food Access Definitions

Hunger’s effects:

Health Consequences

FACT: Under-nutrition (not eating enough) and malnutrition (not eating enough nutrients for proper development) lead to death for about 40,000 children a day worldwide.

FACT: Undernourished pregnant women often have low birth weight babies. These babies are more likely to suffer from physical illness and impaired growth and development. Undernourished babies are more likely to die during their first year of life

FACT: Children and pregnant women have high nutrient needs. They are often the first to have health consequences due to nutrient deficiencies

FACT: Chronic hunger in adults weakens bones and muscles; increases the risk of illness, makes existing health problems worse, and contributes to depression and lack of energy.

Behavioral Consequences

FACT: Children who are hungry may be less attentive and curious than other children. They often have difficulty concentrating. Their reading, verbal, and motor skills can suffer. They are absent more often from school and have higher dropout rates.

FACT: Even short-term nutritional deficiencies can affect a child’s ability to concentrate and perform complex tasks.

FACT: In adults, hunger causes nervousness, irritability and difficulty concentrating.

FACT: Hunger can have an emotional impact as well. It may diminish self-confidence and self-esteem. In a culture that encourages self-reliance, people hesitate to seek help. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed that they need food assistance.

Resources For Educators:

What is hunger? Who is hungry in our community? What can we do?

Hunger 101  is one of the ways Gallatin Valley Food Bank can help you, your organization, or your school become educated about hunger and poverty in our community and explore potential solutions. Hunger 101 is an educational project adapted from Atlanta Community Food Bank, that includes an introduction to hunger and poverty in Montana, the US, and the World and includes activities, and a workshop that we can lead for you!

Hunger 101 Curriculum

Common Core Standards for Hunger 101

Ask about our Community Food Game! It’s fun and engaging! (It takes at least 20 people)

Talking about hunger with your family:

Discussing hunger with members of your family, especially children, helps them build empathy and understanding for others.  While food security can sound complex, everyone can relate to the feeling of hunger. 

Some questions to start conversations about hunger:

  1. What does being hungry feel like for you?
  2. Have you ever felt like you did not have enough food to eat?
  3. What would you do to help someone who is hungry?

Get the whole family involved by working through Feeding America’s Hungry to Help Family Action Plan

Children’s books that shed light on hunger and poverty: 

Other Resources:


HRDC is a 501(c)3 non-profit Community Action Agency. We provide programs and services in the areas of housing, food and nutrition, child and youth development, senior empowerment, transportation, energy assistance, and community development.



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