The United States is one of the most affluent nations on earth. Our agricultural resources are substantial, with over 1 billion acres of actively-used farm land. And yet an estimated one in eight American households face difficulties obtaining enough food to adequately feed the whole family over the course of the year.
Part of the reason for this lack of resources is the sheer amount of food wasted in this country. American consumers and retailers waste tens of billions of pounds of food annually. Over 40 million Americans struggle to afford food every day. As much as half of all food produced in the United States is wasted. The vast amount of wasted food in the United States — $162 billion a year — is especially tragic given that there are well over 40 million Americans who lack sufficient access to healthy, quality food. It is one of today’s biggest public health issues.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture measures the share of residents who live on low incomes and also lack access to nearby grocery stores and from that data derives the food insecurity rate. Food insecurity measures the share of households who report inconsistent access to adequate food..This could be caused by the scarcity of nearby stores — low access to food, and it can also be the result of poverty.
In all U.S. states, there is at least one county where over one in 10 residents do not have consistent access to the food they need on a daily basis. In some U.S. counties or county equivalents, more than one in three residents are at risk of going hungry. Across the country, 12.6% of residents receive nutritional assistance in the form of SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. In the counties going hungry in every state, as many as 18% of residents rely on SNAP.
Food insecurity can be exacerbated by poverty and food deserts — places where there are relatively few if any food options. Many counties on this list are home to or overlap with American Indian reservations, which, due to unique business regulations, poor access to amenities, as well as housing challenges, have historically faced extreme rural poverty.
To determine the county going hungry in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the national food bank network Feeding America to determine the U.S. counties and county equivalents where the largest share of residents don’t get enough to eat.
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