Feeding Kentucky comments on new report that shows improvement in food insecure population

From Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director, Feeding Kentucky

Frankfort – September 6, 2019 A new report released this week by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that 1 in 9 households in the United States encountered difficulty at some time during 2018 in providing enough food for their family. This represents a decline of 0.7 percentage points from last year and is the lowest rate since prior to the recession.

Remember: September is Hunger Action Month across the U.S.

The report underscores that while progress has been made, Kentucky has more work to do to address food insecurity.  Food insecurity is a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

The prevalence of food insecurity in Kentucky remains higher than the national average.  The average rate of household food insecurity among Kentucky households from 2016 -2018 was 14.7 percent.  The average national rate over the same time period was 11.7 percent. State-level estimates were obtained by averaging 3 years of data in order to have a larger sample size to provide more reliable statistics.

Though still higher than the national rate, the prevalence of food insecurity in Kentucky has gone down by 2.9 percentage points. The 2013-2015 average food insecurity rate for the Commonwealth was 17.6 percent.

“We are encouraged to see movement in the right direction on hunger in Kentucky,” said Feeding Kentucky Executive Director Tamara Sandberg. “While it is still unacceptable that any Kentuckian would struggle to put food on the table—let alone 1 in 7 – we know that hunger is a solvable problem. Unfortunately, the Administration has proposed a rule change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that could jeopardize this progress. By its own estimates, the proposed rule would take SNAP benefits away from more than 3 million individuals and increase food insecurity. We urge the administration and Congress to protect SNAP.”

Feeding Kentucky is pushing back against efforts against this SNAP proposal and encouraging others to do the same. The public has until September 23, 2019 to submit comments here on how dangerous this proposal is to the health and well-being of many Americans.

Among people who are food insecure, approximately one-third have incomes above 185% of the federal poverty line and do not quality for any federal nutrition assistance programs. For these households, charitable food assistance may be the only option to put food on the table.

Other key national findings from the report:

  • In 2018, the typical food-secure household spent 21 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition.
  • Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average for all households with children and particularly households with children headed by single women or single men; women and men living alone; and Black- and Hispanic headed households.
  • Households in rural areas are experiencing considerably deeper struggles with hunger compared to those in metro areas, with higher rates of food insecurity overall (12.7 percent compared to 10.8 percent), and higher rates of very low food security (4.8 percent compared to 4.2 percent).

The USDA’s report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2018, is published by USDA’s Economic Research Service and reports on data collected in December 2018. Data for the ERS food security reports come from an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau as the December supplement to the monthly Current Population Survey.

To see the full report, visit https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/94849/err-270.pdf?v=963.1

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