How Do We Define Hunger?

Here is a glossary of commonly-used words in our work:

Food Desert
Geographic areas that lack reasonable access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. A “low-access community” is at least 500 people and/or at least 33% of the census tract’s population must reside more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles). (source: USDA)

Food Hardship
Experienced when an individual states that they did not have enough money to buy needed food for themselves or their family during a 12-month span. (Source: FRAC)

Food Pantry
A nonprofit organization or program that provides food and grocery products directly to community members who are impacted by food hardship and/or food insecurity.

Food Insecurity
Consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year. The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, including involuntarily cutting back on meals or food portions, or not knowing the source of the next meal. Also known as “at risk of hunger.” Includes categories of “low” and “very low” food security, indicating degrees to which food intake is reduced or normal eating patterns disrupted because of lack of money and other resources for food. (source: USDA, Definitions of Food Security)

Physiological condition for an individual that may result from food insecurity; a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation. (source: USDA)

A state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials to enjoy a minimum standard of life and well-being that’s considered acceptable in society, such as shelter, food and water. Federal poverty guidelines (or poverty thresholds) are set by the U.S. government each year to determine a household’s poverty status based on household income, family size, composition and age. (source: dictionary and U.S. Census Bureau)

Senior (Older Adult)
A person who is 60 years or older. (source: USDA, Colorado Department of Human Services, Meals on Wheels)


Learn more about hunger in Colorado and how Hunger Free Colorado is leading efforts to ensure all Coloradans have access to food; the fuel needed for better, healthier lives.