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Hunger in Western North Carolina

Hunger is a condition of poverty. Hunger has a price. Medical problems, learning difficulties, headaches, fatigue and emotional distress are all the result of not having enough to eat.

In many ways, America is the land of plenty. But for 1 in 6 people in the United States, hunger is a reality. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are struggling with hunger. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.

It’s time to educate ourselves about the causes of hunger in America.

Who is Hungry?

It is very difficult to try and quantify who is experiencing hunger on a day to day basis, some folks are in a constant struggle, some folks only need help now and then, depending on circumstances. Food insecurity is something easier to measure. Food insecurity means a lack of continuous access to basic food needs. Over 104,000 in Western North Carolina experience food insecurity at some time during the year.

Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs such as housing, medical bills, or purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

In Western North Carolina alone, 38,000 children are estimated to be living in food insecurity. (estimated by Map the Meal Gap 2013 ).

We know who uses FNS – Food and Nutrition Services (formerly food stamps). It is mostly households with children, the disabled, and the elderly. Our most vulnerable neighbors.

FNS pie

Where do the food insecure live?

They may be living next door.

Though poverty is strongly tied to food insecurity, there is a more direct correlation with unemployment numbers. The recession has brought hard times to those who used to feel financially self sufficient and secure.

  • Only 10% of food bank clients* are actually homeless.
  • 36% of people* have at least one working adult in the household.
  • 17% of the adults* interviewed in the last Hunger Study have attended college or a technical school.

(*being served within the Feeding America network)

Rates of food insecurity among rural households is higher than the national average. The irony is that many of these food-insecure households are in the very rural and farm communities whose productivity feeds the world and provides low-cost wholesome food for American consumers.

Challenges facing rural areas differ from metro/urban areas in several significant ways:

  • Employment is more concentrated in low-wage industries.
  • Unemployment and underemployment are greater.
  • Education levels are lower.
  • Work-support services, such as flexible and affordable child care and public transportation, are less available.
  • The rural marketplace offers less access to communication and transportation networks.
  • Rural locations offer companies less access to activities that foster administration, research and development.

Seven states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2009-2011:

United States 14.7%
Mississippi 19.2%
Texas 18.5%
Arkansas 19.2%
Alabama 17.4%
Georgia 17.4%
Florida 16.2%
North Carolina 17.1%

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