Increases in Energy Prices Raise Risk of Food Insecurity
Unexpected increases in energy prices can adversely affect food security, USDA reports. For poor families, rising energy prices create a difficult tradeoff between buying enough food, staying warm, or having enough gas for the car. Energy price shocks may be particularly detrimental to low-income households because they have fewer resources available to absorb an unplanned higher expense. A recent USDA study explored the relationship between energy price shocks and food security and found that price shocks in each energy source—gasoline, natural gas, and electricity—increased the probability of a household becoming more food insecure or food stressed. The magnitude of the response was higher for low-income households compared to the average response for all households. A 41% increase in natural gas prices, for example, led to the prevalence of food insecurity among low-income households rising from 12.4 to 14.7%.