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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Report: Louisiana one of nation's most 'food insecure' states

Posted By on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge EDDIE WELKER / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • EDDIE WELKER / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

Working adults, children and seniors in Louisiana have some of the nation's highest rates of 'food insecurity,' according to a November analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the advocacy group Hunger Free America.

The report, which looked at supplemental data from the Census' Current Population Survey, found that 20.1 percent of Louisianans were considered food insecure by the federal government between 2014-2016, a condition defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as having "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods." Only New Mexico's rate of food insecurity is as high.

Among children statewide, 12.4 percent are food insecure — matching Mississippi with the nation's second-highest rate. The state also has the highest rate of food insecurity among seniors (adults over age 60). Nationally, 8.2 percent of seniors are food insecure, relative to 14.3 percent of Louisiana seniors.

Louisiana also receives the nation's second-highest rate of per capita anti-hunger spending assistance, receiving more than $400 per person in federal funds in 2016, the report said. In Hunger Free America's analysis, Louisiana mirrors other states which bear a correlation between a minimum wage no higher than the federally-mandated $7.25 an hour and higher-than-average rates of food insecurity.

"The main cause of U.S. hunger is that people simply don't earn enough money to meet all their living expenses," Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg wrote in the report. He said proposed cuts to federal nutritional assistance plans could damage efforts to fight hunger nationwide.

Hunger has persisted throughout the country even as the U.S. economy has improved over the last several years.  Citing USDA findings, Berg mentions that 41.2 million Americans experienced hunger in 2016, a number which has grown by more than 5 million since data collected before the Great Recession.

"The U.S. likely has more people struggling against hunger, even per capita, than any industrialized Western democracy," he said.  "We must not accept 41 million Americans — and 13 million American children — struggling against hunger as the 'new normal.'"

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