There are at least ten states in which 6% or more of population experiences very low food security. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “In households with very low food security, the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. ” Alarmingly, the report concludes that food insecurity is the highest it has been since USDA began tracking the statistics in 1995.
The states where hunger is more prevalent than the national average are also often states in which a high percentage of the people live below the poverty line. Poor people also eat cheaper, less nutritious food which may lead them to have higher incidences of obesity and additional health problems.
Among the most complete evaluations of the links between hunger and other sociopolitical problems is the The United States Department of Agriculture’s 2010 report, “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009,” published in November. The research found that certain groups were more likely to go hungry than the national average.
Households with incomes below the poverty line (19.3 percent)
Families with children headed by single women (13.3 percent)
Black households (10.1 percent)
Hispanic households (8.8 percent)
Households in principle cities of metropolitan areas (6.6 percent)
There are other signs that hunger is a pervasive problem in America. One is that almost one in five people in the United States participates in a food assistance program such as Food Stamps, now officially known as The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. More people are also seeking assistance from food banks. Neither can solve the hunger problem alone, as the government numbers show.
24/7 Wall St. looked at the figures on people who have what the Department of Agriculture calls “low security” or “very low security households.” Unlike very low security households, low security households are ”food-insecure households [that] obtained enough food to avoid substantially disrupting their eating patterns or reducing food intake by using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries.” We also examined data on unemployment, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line, obesity and median household income.
Many Americans do not eat well or do not eat often enough to remain healthy, and there seems to be no concrete reason for it. The problem predates the recent economic downturn.
It is tempting to try to determine why so many people are routinely hungry in a country as rich as the United States. It is equally tempting to suggest how the problem might be solved. For instance, the government could mandate the redistribution of wealth. Alternatively, the Agriculture Department could lead a new War on Poverty to tackle the problem that was supposed to have been solved decades ago. Neither will happen. Hunger is not enough of a priority to be eradicated. That is obvious based on the lack of any coordinated effort by either the public or the private sector to do so. The reasons for that continue to be a mystery.
This is the 24/7 Wall St. examination of the states where hunger is the largest problem in the country and includes data reflecting how hunger has a relationship to other socio-economic factors for each state.