Nearly one in five Americans struggle with food insecurity

Published in FSD Update

A new study finds that Mississippi is the state with the highest percentage of residents who struggle to buy food.

In this month’s Editor’s Letter, I wrote about a new focus for my blog in the upcoming months: hunger. In the column I wrote:

“The sad truth is that in 2012, 49 million Americans lived in a food insecure household, nearly 16 million of those were children, according to Feeding America, a leading domestic hunger-relief charity.

“It’s hard to fathom that so many people don’t have enough food to eat, especially when you consider that nearly 70 billion pounds of edible food—70 billion—is thrown away in the United States each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That figure includes waste that occurs at every stage of the creation and distribution process, from farmers to manufacturers to cafeterias. A lot of the waste is due to the perishable nature of items like meat and fresh produce.”

A new Gallup study was released this week that shows the states where residents were the most and least likely to be food insecure. For the sixth year, Mississippi topped the list, with a whopping 25.1% of its residents—one in four—who struggle to afford food. Rounding out the top 10 are: West Virginia (23%), Louisiana (23%), Alabama (22.9%), Arkansas (22.5%), North Carolina (22.2%), Kentucky (21.8%), Georgia (21.5%), Oklahoma (21.2%) and Arizona (21.1%).

The state with the fewest number of residents who are food insecure was Alaska at 11%. That’s more than one in 10 people in the state who say they struggle to afford food. And that’s the best.

The average nationwide is 18.9%. That’s up slightly from 2012’s 18.2%.

The survey’s authors note that in order to curb the uptick in food insecurity, there need to be more resources in food assistance programs. “However, Congress passed an update to the Farm Bill in early 2014 that cuts approximately $8 billion from national food assistance programs over the next decade,” the authors wrote. “This could make it harder for states to help their residents who struggle to afford food.”

You can read more from the study here.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

K-12 foodservice participating in federal nutrition programs soon could fall into some extra cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to buy 11 million pounds of cheese to raise plummeting prices, the result of a dairy glut. The acquired product will be distributed to federal nutrition programs, which might include WIC, SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs, and food banks.

The purchase falls short of a call from Congress, unions, special interest groups and commodity organizations for a $150 million buyout of dairy assets to mitigate the 35% drop in dairy revenues—a 30-year...

Ideas and Innovation
cardboard takeout box

The death knell keeps ringing for polystyrene containers. A story Monday in the Chicago Tribune reports that a man who provided free recycling for the foam products in 10 area communities is shutting down his services, citing expense and logistical difficulties, and leaving few options for diverting the material from landfills.

“From a business perspective, there is no market for [recycled polystyrene foam]. It's difficult to sell,” Beth Lang, facilities and general services manager at the Recycling Drop-Off Center in Naperville, Ill., told the Tribune. “The second reason, and more...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at Martin Luther College will be able to cook their own food in the cafeteria this year, thanks to the addition of a new self-cook station installed during the cafeteria’s renovation, The Journal reports.

In addition to the self-cook station, which contains induction cookers, the revamped cafeteria at the New Ulm, Minn., school will include new pizza equipment, a panini grill, tiled floors, poured countertops and new arrangements to make the cafeteria appear more open.

"We wanted to make it look more like a restaurant and not like a cafeteria," Director of Dining...

Industry News & Opinion

Two chefs at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., are trying to help solve the Mars food dilemma, myfoxspokane.com reports .

Just outside the school’s cafeteria, Executive Chef Timothy Grayson and his partner, Christine Logan-Travis, are trying their hand at growing tomatoes, oregano, basil and other plants in Martian Regolith Soil, the closest soil on Earth to that found on the fourth planet from the sun.

All of the plants in the Mars-inspired garden are intended for human consumption.

“It is a reality that at some point, if man goes to Mars, they will need to...

FSD Resources