However, the pattern of food spending varies with income:
Food expenditures vary by income level
First number is for Income below 130 percent of the poverty line
The second number is for Income between 130 and 150% of the poverty line
Per person weekly
spending, 2003 dollars
Bread and baked goods 2.22 ---- 2.67
Dairy foods 2.42 ---- 3.03
Fruit 2.06 ---- 2.67
Beef 1.66 ---- 1.98
Frozen prepared foods 0.90 ---- 1.03
Vegetables 1.99 ---- 2.39
Notes: In fiscal year 2003, the poverty line was $18,660 per year for a
family of four with two related children under age 18.
All differences in expenditures between the two income groups are
statistically significant at the 10-percent level.
Source: Analysis by USDA, Economic Research Service, of the Bureau
of Labor Statistics’ 2003 Consumer Expenditure Survey.
A comprehensive study entitled "Household Food Security in the United States, 2002" examines the prevalence of hunger in the United States.
To get an idea of what the U.S. Government considers to be the standard for food costs, you need to understand the USDA's Thrifty Food Plan. To quote:
"The Thrifty Food Plan—developed by USDA—serves as a national standard for a nutritious diet at low cost. It represents a set of “market baskets” of food that people of specific age and gender could consume at home to maintain a healthful diet that meets current dietary standards, taking into account the food consumption patterns of U.S. households. The cost of the meal plan for each age/gender category is calculated based on average national food prices adjusted for inflation. The cost of the market basket for a household is further adjusted by household size to account for economies of scale."
"For example, the weekly Thrifty Food Plan cost for a household composed of a married couple with no children, ages 29 (husband) and 30 (wife), is given by adding the individual Thrifty Food
Plan costs for the husband ($30.50) and wife ($27.50) and adjusting the total upward by 10 percent. The adjusted total ($63.80) represents the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan for this type of household. "
The cost for the Thrifty Food Plan for a family of two adults and two young children is $92.70 per week.