According to a study, Gen Z adults were almost twice as likely to be food insecure as other adults in the first half of 2022 a report from Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability. Among these adults – born after 1996 or 18 to about 26 years old – According to the analysis, based on monthly surveys of 1,200 adults, 30 percent experienced food insecurity.
The report, released last week, says about 17 to 19 percent of Millennials and Generation Xers faced food insecurity in the same six-month period, compared to just 7 percent of people born before 1965 (dubbed Boomer+ in the survey).
Overall, the number of people reporting food insecurity in these surveys has ranged from 14 to 16 percent since January. Based on these reports, the authors estimated the national rate of food insecurity at 16 percent.
Generation Z households were the most likely to say they source food from a pantry or other charity, with three in 10 relying on the charity system, versus just 8 percent of Boomer+ households.
“Young people tend to have lower incomes, so the results are not necessarily surprising, but we have to be careful. Food inflation is outpacing wage growth and hitting those on the lowest incomes hardest,” said Jayson Lusk, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University and director of the center a press release.
The report also found that groceries consumed a large and growing portion of low-income household budgets in June; Those earning less than $50,000 spent a larger portion of their income on groceries in June compared to previous months.
Overall food spending has increased about 15 percent since January; in June, respondents said they spend $119 a week eating out at home and another $67 a week at restaurants and takeaways.
Zoomers and Millennials also reported being more conscious consumers compared to older generations; They were more likely than their older peers to say they prefer caged eggs, wild-caught fish to farm-raised fish, plant-based proteins and organic foods, and they were also more likely to say they are working to reduce food waste at home.
The survey also asked respondents about the attributes they prioritize when shopping for groceries – all generations prioritize affordability, taste and nutrition. Gen Z and Millennials ranked environmental impact and social responsibility nearly twice as important as Boomers+.
Respondents also rated the trustworthiness of food information sources such as federal agencies, the media, physicians and certain food companies. Primary care physicians were ranked the most trusted by all age groups, followed by the FDA, although trust had fallen 20 percent over the past month, the report found. Overall, McDonald’s was rated as the least trusted source of information, and both the New York Times and CNN were also rated untrustworthy.
The survey also measured respondents’ support for a range of dietary guidelines. Increasing funding for agricultural research to develop crops more resilient to heat, drought and floods received the most support, with more than three-quarters of each group giving a positive view. Increasing funding for conservation programs, expanding SNAP benefits, banning food advertising to children, regulating CAFOS, levying a carbon tax on food producers, and expanding citizenship for undocumented farm workers were supported by more than half of all respondents supported. Support for fast-food zone laws and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages was weaker.
And while 70 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about how the war between Russia and Ukraine could affect global food supplies, just a quarter said resolving the war should be a top US priority to ensure global food security. Instead, they favored increasing US agricultural production and Increasing supply chain resilience.