The Hungriest St...There are at least ten states in which 6 percent 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 the USDA began tracking the statistics in 1995.
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.” They also examined data on unemployment, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line, obesity and median household income.
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.
Is your state among the hungriest? Read on to find out.
(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
10. (Tie) OhioTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.1 percent Median Household Income: $46,318 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 13.4 Unemployment: 9.9 percent Obesity: 28.8 percent
The percentage of Ohio households that suffer from food insecurity was 14.8 percent for the years 2007-2009, among the top ten states for food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This rate was higher than the national average for those years, which was 13.5 percent. About 6 percent of households reduced their food intake because they did not have enough money to buy food.
10. (Tie) Florid...Total Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.1 percent Median Income: $44,736 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 14.9 percent Unemployment: 11.9 percent Obesity: 25.2 percent
The severity of food insecurity has increased more dramatically in Florida than almost any other state due to its troubled economy. Food insecurity rose to an average of 14.2 percent of households between 2007 and 2009 from 8.9 percent in 2004 to 2006. The number of households experiencing very low food security has almost doubled over this time period, increasing from 3.1 percent to 6.1 percent.
9. VermontTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.2 percent Median Income: $51,618 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 11.4 percent Unemployment: 5.7 percent Obesity: 22.8 percent
Last year, the Vermont Foodbank distributed 7.6 million pounds of food to at least 86,000 Vermonters, The Burlington Free Press reported. John Sayles, the executive director of the organization, told the paper “the need [for food assistance] continues to rise at an alarming rate.” Additionally, enrollment in Vermont’s Food Stamps Program, 3SquaresVT, is at an all-time high, serving about 88,000 residents.
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
6. (Tie) Missour...Total Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.4 percent Median Income: $45,229 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 14.6 percent Unemployment: 9.4 percent Obesity: 30 percent
Missouri had more than 350,000 families which either have low or very low food security in 2009. One food pantry in the state, Circle of Concern, reports demand for food was up 24 percent from the previous year. This is the third largest increase in people having trouble obtaining food in the nation.
(AP Photo/Cliff Schiappa)
6. ArkansasTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.4 percent Median Income: $37,823 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 18.8 percent Unemployment: 7.8 percent Obesity: 30.5 percent
Arkansas has one of the highest rates of very low food security in the country, affecting 6.4 percent of households. Similarly, it ranks number one in the nation for low food security, with 17.7 percent of households needing some sort of assistance for buying food. In addition, the state has the highest rate of food insecurity for children, 24.4 percent, according to a 2008 study conducted by the charity Feeding America.
(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
4. OklahomaTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.5 percent Median Income: $41,664 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 16.2 percent Unemployment: 6.9 percent Obesity: 31.4 percent
Demand at food banks in Oklahoma has increased while donations have remained steady, Dawn Burroughs of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma told The Oklahoman newspaper. This problem is extremely serious, as the number of households who have had to reduce their food intake due to lack of money has grown from 5.3 percent to 6.5 percent from 2006 to 2009.
4. MississippiTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.5 percent Median Income: $36,646 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 21.9 percent Unemployment: 9.7 percent Obesity: 34.4 percent
Citizens of Mississippi have faced a number of pressing issues with regards to food over the last few years. The state has the fourth highest rate of very low food security in the country and the third highest rate of low food security at 17.1 percent. More than one in five residents use the state’s Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called Food Stamps. Additionally, the state has the worst obesity rate in the nation at 34.4 percent.
(AP Photo/University of Southern Mississippi, Steve Rouse)
3. OregonTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.6 percent Median Income: $48,457 % Below Poverty Line: 14.3 percent Unemployment: 10.5 percent Obesity: 23 percent
About half a million Oregon residents suffer from low food security. Rachel Bristol, CEO of the Oregon Food Bank, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that “it’s a combination of the shift in our economy and the types of jobs here. We’ve moved from heavily manufacturing and the natural resource based industry to the service sectors.” Oregonians are now generally earning less and receiving fewer benefits.
2. MaineTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.7 percent Median Income: $45,734 Percentage Below Poverty Line: 12.3 percent Unemployment: 7.4 percent Obesity: 25.8 percent
The rate of food insecurity in Maine has increased dramatically over the last few years. According to The Portland Press Herald, the number of hungry households in the state increased 5 percent from 1996 to 2009. Similarly, the number of homes with very low security rose by 2.7 percent over the same time period. The rate of increase for both of these categories is twice the national average.
1. AlabamaTotal Percentage of Households with Very Low Food Security: 6.8 percent Median Income: $40,489 Percent Below Poverty Line: 17.5 percent Unemployment: 8.9 percent Obesity: 31 percent
Although 15 percent of Alabama households faced food security issues between 2007 and 2009, 6.8 percent have experienced hunger due to very low food security. This is twice as many as the 3 years prior. Additionally, the state has the highest rate of very low food security in the country. In total, about 1,860,000 households require food assistance in Alabama.