While on one hand this country suffers from an obesity epidemic, it’s also important to point out that 50 million Americans are food insecure — lacking the means to buy groceries and feed their families healthy meals.
A new study conducted by Feeding America illuminates just how serious this problem is in the U.S. And unfortunately, these numbers are not encouraging, especially for African-Americans. Map the Meal Gap 2013 found that African-Americans disproportionately suffer from hunger with one in three Black children living in households that are food insecure compared to one in eight white children. And Black families are twice as likely to experience food insecurity compared to white families.
Map the Meal Gap 2013 also found that food insecurity happens in every congressional district in every county in the U.S. Obviously certain areas having higher rates than others, but when you look at counties with higher Black populations — especially in Southern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia to name a few — 92 percent of those places have above average food insecurity rates.
Even wealthier areas where Blacks live face food insecurity issues as well. The Grio reported that in “Prince Georges County, Maryland, has a food insecurity rate of 15.6 percent while New York County, which includes New York City, has a rate of 16.3 percent.”
—Holmes County, Mississippi, is the county with the highest rate of food insecurity, 35.2 percent; Slope County, North Dakota, has the lowest rate of food insecurity, 2.4 percent.
—Loudoun County, Virginia, has one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, yet nearly 17,000 of its residents are food insecure.
—The nation’s poorest state, Mississippi, has eight counties among the “top ten” most food insecure counties in the nation. Roughly one in three residents in those counties faces hunger.
—Los Angeles County has the most food insecure children of any county, with more than 650,000 children living in food insecure homes.
—Illinois’ Cook County, which houses the city of Chicago, has over 860,000 people who are food insecure, up from 800,000 in 2010.
A lot is fueling hunger in Black America: Poverty, unemployment, food deserts, no transportation to go to a grocery store and food stamps just not being enough to adequately feed families. And with poverty comes having to make hard choices between other necessities and food.
According to data about Feeding America’s 37 millions clients:
—70 percent of households have incomes below the federal poverty line; the average monthly income for client households is $940; and 36 percent of households have one or more adults who is working. Not to mention, 10 percent of client households are homeless.
—46 percent of client households served report having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and food.
—39 percent of client households said they had to choose between paying for rent or a mortgage and food.
—34 percent of client households report having to choose between paying for medical bills and food.
—35 percent of client households must choose between transportation and food.
“Millions of Americans live at risk of hunger,” said Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America, in a press release. “Map the Meal Gap 2013 data…will help policy makers and our elected officials understand the challenges they face in addressing hunger in the communities they serve.”
We really hope that is the case.
The study also provides maps to see the rates of food insecurity in your area, click here for more info.
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