Arkansas still leads nation in food insecurity

State News
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks leading the effort to end hunger in America, released its annual Map the Meal Gap report this week.

The 2019 report (based on 2017 data) focuses on the county and congressional district food insecurity and county level food cost in the United States. 

Arkansas remains second highest in the nation at 17.3 percent of households whose members may experience a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life. More than 518,960 Arkansas struggle to get enough to eat. Of that total, 167,440 are children.

The report ranks the Natural State second in childhood food insecurity behind New Mexico. One in four Arkansas children, or 23.6 percent, are at risk of hunger. 

Food insecurity by Congressional district is similarly disconcerting:

District Food Insecure People Percentage

District 1:  137,440 19%

District 2: 132,840 17.4%

District 3: 114,040 14.1%

District 4: 134,640 19%

The report also includes county-by-county breakouts of household and child food insecurity in each state. This provides a comprehensive statewide assessment that local and state leaders can use in developing goals and strategies to reduce hunger. 

“We continue to ask our elected officials to strengthen the federal nutrition safety net,” said Kathy Webb, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance executive director, “and create flexible options for those in rural areas and those without access to summer meals in urban areas. Working with schools, non-profits, businesses, and all levels of government gives us opportunities for success. But not if federal programs are cut.”

Other key national findings:

  • USDA estimates that 40 million people (or 1 in 8 Americans), including nearly 12 million children (or 1 in 6 children) are food insecure.
  • Rural counties account for 63% of all U.S. counties but account for 78% with the highest rates of food insecurity.
  • Of U.S. counties with the highest rates of food insecurity, 83% are in the South.
  • The estimated rate of child food insecurity is higher than the rate of overall food insecurity.
  • The national food budget shortfall, or total annualized need among everyone estimated to be food insecure, stands at $21 billion as of 2017.

Follow current food policy conversations on Twitter at #MealGap and #SNAPmatters. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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