Rates of food hardship, or the inability for someone to afford enough food to feed themselves and their families, were previously declining for several years. Unfortunately, these rates are once again on the rise across the country. This new report states the national food hardship rate was 15.7 percent in 2017, up from 15.1 percent in 2016.
Although the national unemployment rate is falling, food hardship rates are on the rise, as many workers do not make a livable wage. Some low-income families have access to nutrition assistance programs, but not everyone gets the help they need. Proper food access is significantly difficult for rural communities, seniors, people with disabilities, and people of color.
Thirteen of the 20 states with the highest rates of food hardships are in the Southeast and Southwest. Arizona is ranked 11th for the worst food hardship rates, with a rate of 17.1 percent.
Households with children face even more food hardships than households without them. Nationally, the food hardship rate for households with children is 18.4 percent. At 22.8 percent, Arizona has the third highest rate of food hardships for households with kids. This rate is especially harmful and alarming – when children lack access to food, it impacts their health, growth, and education, and can have detrimental lifelong effects on their well-being.
Legislation is key to finding meaningful solutions to America’s food hardship problem. Through policy and meaningful action, we can strengthen nutrition assistance programs, increase food access to those who need it most, and secure higher wages for low-income workers.
America’s devastating food equity crisis hurts everyone. Pinnacle Prevention works hard every day to find solutions, from convening experts across the state to address food system obstacles through the Arizona Food Systems Network, to increasing access to sufficient and healthy food for those who need it the most. Click here to learn more about Double Up Food Bucks, a program that helps Arizonans who use SNAP/EBT (formerly food stamps) bring home more fresh fruits and vegetables. Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with efforts surrounding food security in our state and across the country.