JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -Food insecurity is happening in every county in Northeast Arkansas, according to a recent study.
The Food Bank of NEA announced the release of the latest numbers by Feeding America in the Map the Meal Gap 2019.
The study has a breakdown by county of people who are food insecure, with the new data showing the latest results from 2017.
Chief Executive Officer for Feeding America Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said everyone is affected.
“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger,” Fontenot said. “It is within our collective power to change that and ensure that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is investing in our nation’s future by helping provide over 146 million meals to children every year. Still, Map the Meal Gap highlights that more must be done. Together, food banks, corporations, policymakers, donors, volunteers and advocates can solve hunger.”
Overall, food insecurity in Northeast Arkansas ranges from a low of 15.1% of the population in Greene County up to 25.7% in St. Francis County.
The study also shows that 26% of Northeast Arkansas residents who are food insecure are probably ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements. This means many households must rely on charitable food assistance from a food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen.
CEO for the Food Bank of NEA Christie Jordan said food insecure families experience an average budget shortfall of $15.48 each week.
“When you look at the budget shortfall food-insecure families are facing each year in Northeast Arkansas,” Jordan said. “It is the equivalent of 12.6 million meals missing from families’ tables. One in four of the individuals who are food insecure in our area are not eligible for federal nutrition programs and must rely on our network of food pantries and soup kitchens for food assistance. We are very concerned that many of our neighbors still struggle with hunger every day.”
The study shows there were 87,540 people in the Food Bank of NEA’s service area who at risk of hunger. Over 28,000 from that number were children.
Map the Meal Gap 2019 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen.
The Food Bank of NEA is a member of Feeding America’s hunger-relief network.
For more information about the Food Bank of NEA, click here.