New Analysis of Food Hardship Shows At Least One in Seven Respondents In Nearly Every State Unable to Afford Enough Food in First Half of 2010

Contact: Jennifer Adach, 202-986-2200 x3018

Washington, D.C. – December 29, 2010 – New data show that in nearly every state, at least one in seven respondents reported in first half of 2010 that there were times during the prior twelve months that they did not have enough money to buy food that they needed for themselves or their family, according to the Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) analysis of data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

This report is the third in FRAC’s series of analyses of survey data on food hardship collected by Gallup as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. This particular analysis looks at the most recent available food hardship rates by state for the first half of 2010.

For the months of January through June 2010, FRAC’s analysis found that:

  • Sixteen states had food hardship rates of 20 percent or higher – one in five or more of those surveyed experienced food hardship;
  • Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia had rates of 14.15 percent or higher – one in seven or more of those surveyed experienced food hardship; and
  • Only three states – Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota – had a rate below 14 percent.

“Food hardship remains appallingly high in this country. These numbers underscore just how muted the recovery has been for many families, communities, and states. People are still struggling to afford the basic necessities of life,” said Jim Weill, FRAC president.

FRAC also compared the food hardship rates for the twelve months from July 2008 through June 2009 to the twelve months from July 2009 through June 2010. FRAC chose twelve month periods to get a better sense of which states saw a statistically significant change from the heart of the recession to the earliest months of the recovery, albeit a recovery that all agree has been very weak. Comparing those two periods, five states (Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah) saw a statistically significant increase in their food hardship rates and five states (Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Washington) saw a statistically significant decrease.

“States will be facing many fiscal challenges next year, yet unemployment, poverty and food hardship remain very, very high. State leaders must protect programs for low-income families,” said Weill. “They should also look at smart and cost-effective ways to connect families to the federal nutrition programs – strategies like taking advantage of options in the federal SNAP (food stamp) program to get more people enrolled, making new choices to feed children in school and after school from the recently passed child nutrition reauthorization law, and getting a head start on summer food outreach to raise awareness of the program.”

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