Based on meso data, study analyses the causes of poverty and food insecurity. It seeks to identify who is food insecure and where they are, why they risk food insecurity and what options exist to reduce their vulnerability. Using the sustainable livelihoods framework and collecting qualitative and quantitative data from two selected districts of Balangir and Dhenkanal under Village Level Studies Project, the paper looks at five livelihood groups, notably marginal and small scale farming households, labouring rural households, mining worker households, rural artisan households and scheduled tribal households. Even though Orissa is virtually self-sufficient in food grains, there is a significant prevalence of food insecurity in the state and around 9 percent of the population are classified as extremely food insecure consuming less than 1,800 kcal per day. The situation varies significantly within the state: 15 percent of the population in the southern region are extremely food insecure compared to 3 percent of the population living in the coastal areas. The study finds that food insecurity and vulnerability are mainly caused by a limited physical as well human asset base, slow economic growth, limited or no access to welfare provisions and public services, lack of land reform and difficulties in accessing credit institutions. Based on the findings of the analysis, the paper identifies key interventions to address the immediate food needs of the most vulnerable and to stimulate rural development, in particular promoting agriculturally linked livelihoods. Proposed interventions include increased investment in agricultural research, improved watershed development, developing financial services and promoting small scale industries as well as micro enterprises and strengthening anti-poverty programmes within the state. The two district sampled, where more or less half population are under poverty. Livelihood options are limited and skewed towards large farmers in the study villages. Differential land holding, occupational diversification, migratory pattern and agricultural productivity hold key factors of poverty across farmer category and size holding.