Three Major Differences Between Hunger and Food Insecurity

Contrary to what you may think, “food insecurity” and “hunger” are not interchangeable.

Today, the world is experiencing a major food crisis affecting over 200 million people. Several factors have exacerbated this problem, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, rising inflation, and more. As a result, the term “food insecurity” and the word “hunger” have cropped up in news headlines globally. But contrary to what you may think, “food insecurity” and “hunger” are not interchangeable. Here are three major differences between hunger and food insecurity: 

They Mean Different Things

Hunger is defined as a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat, while food insecurity refers to a regular lack of access to “enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.”

They Have Different Causes

The causes of hunger include one’s diet, lifestyle factors like exercise and stress, and medications. However, the causes of food insecurity are more systemic, and include poverty, unemployment, or low income, lack of affordable housing, chronic health conditions or lack of access to healthcare, climate change, and systemic racism and racial discrimination

They Require Different Solutions

So what can we do to alleviate these issues? You can reduce hunger by eating enough protein, eating more fiber-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and more. But the fight against food insecurity is more complicated. Many of TechnoServe’s clients such as smallholder farmers face seasonal food shortages and the threat of becoming food insecure. It’s why we’ve chosen to help build stronger food systems as part of our mission to fight poverty around the world one person at a time. 

Learn more about what we’re doing to improve food systems and how you can help hard-working farmers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and the communities they support. 


  • Where can I find out more about  some of the different ways TechnoServe helps fight hunger?

ANSWER: Our approach, which includes agriculture and food production, provides a holistic solution to the ever-greater challenge of sustainable global food security.

  • Where can I find out more about some of the ways TechnoServe improves food security in different regions in the world?

ANSWER: TechnoServe’s Chief Transformation Officer Kindra Halvorson addresses questions about how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting food security in the developing world.

  • Where can I find out more about  food security and hunger?

ANSWER: You can find out more about food security and hunger by following this link to our Food Security page.