In food insecurity, Arkansas at top, USDA reports
Posted: September 5, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.
Arkansas ranked among the top in states with the highest levels of “food insecurity” last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday.
About 50.12 million Americans, or 16.4 percent of the civilian population, were “food insecure” at some point last year, meaning that their access to adequate food was limited by a lack of money and other resources, the USDA said in its annual report.
That represented a 2.6 percent increase from 2010, the figure was second only to the record 50.162 million in 2009, the USDA report said. The agency added 2011 increase in overall food insecurity was not considered statistically significant.
However, those with food insecurity in the severe range, described by the USDA as having “very low food security,” increased during the period, to 5.7 percent of households from 5.4 percent in 2010, returning to 2008 and 2009 levels, the report said.
In Arkansas, 19.2 percent of households reported food insecurity, meaning low or very low food security, and 7.6 percent reported very low food security, according to the report.
Estimated prevalence of food insecurity from the years 2009-2011 in the United States ranged from 7.8 percent in North Dakota to 19.2 percent in Arkansas and Mississippi, the USDA said, and rates of very low food security ranged from 3.1 percent in North Dakota to 7.6 percent in Arkansas.
In the survey, 1,527 Arkansas households were interviewed of the 1,186,000 total statewide. The figures on “food insecurity” carried a margin of error of plus or minus 2.13 percentage points, and the survey on “very low food security” carried a margin of error of 1.39 percentage points.
Fifty-seven percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month before the 2011 survey, the USDA said. A record 46.7 million people in the U.S. received food stamps in June, the agency reported Tuesday.
Free, reduced-price meals
Meanwhile, the Pulaski County Special School District announced its policy this week on providing free and reduced price meals under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. For those eligible, reduced-price breakfast is 30 cents and lunch 40 cents.
Copies of the policy, including guidelines for eligibility, should be available at each school, the district said.