Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, a national hunger-fighting group, said the numbers are proof that it has become harder to make ends meet - even when you have a job.
"There are too few jobs, and jobs frequently are paying wages that aren't enough to lift families above the poverty line, and that shows up in the food insecurity numbers," Weill explained. "Appalling numbers of Americans report struggling to buy enough food to last the entire month."
About 5 percent of households have what is known as "very low food security," meaning they miss meals because of a lack of food. The USDA says that figure also has not changed since 2008. The agency surveyed almost 44,000 households for this report.
When members of Congress get back to work after the August recess, one item on their plates will be how much of the federal budget to allocate for food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The U.S. Senate has approved cutting it by about $4 billion over 10 years, and Republicans in the House have suggested trimming up to 10 times that much.
Weill believes it would be better to improve the program than to cut it.
"Half of all American children, and half of all adults during their working years, receive food stamps at some point," he said. "That's not because people aren't trying to work hard and doing their best, but because the economy has created so much unemployment and low wages, and economic insecurity."
Critics of the food stamp program have said the nation cannot afford it, and they also want to see more restrictions on what people are allowed to buy. Weill said, for most families, SNAP participation is temporary, adding that research has shown it works to improve people's chances of success at work and school.
The USDA report can be viewed at http://ers.usda.gov.