Policymaker and practitioner efforts are underway across the United States to encourage people to utilize formal financial institutions (i.e., banks and credit unions) to save money for emergencies. If a crisis affects their income or expenses and they lack emergency savings, people go without meeting their basic needs or turn to high-cost credit. The Great Recession of 2007–2009 was a crisis that caused widespread unemployment and economic hardship as well as a dramatic increase in household food insecurity.
This study used SIPP data to investigate the strength of the relationship between bank account ownership and household food insecurity. Results suggest that financial access did not provide a buffer against food insecurity for the unemployed during the Great Recession. Policy and practice efforts are needed to increase the relevance of bank accounts for the unemployed when households are at risk for food insecurity during a crisis.