Hunger Still A Widespread Problem In Northwest Arkansas, Despite Myriad Of Feeding Programs

Quality, Affordability Of Food Counts, Experts Say

Posted: July 13, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

STAFF PHOTO DAVID GOTTSCHALK Deanna Allen, kitchen helper at the Fayetteville Senior Activity and Wellness Center in Fayetteville, covers cobb salads in the kitchen June 16.

Needy people have more options than ever before to get food, yet studies by government and social service agencies continue to show increasing numbers of hungry people in Northwest Arkansas.

At A Glance (w/logo)

Walmart, Tyson Take On Hunger

Since 2000, Tyson Foods has donated 96 million pounds of food to food banks across the United States. Tyson has partnered with Food Research and Action Center, Feeding America and Lift Up America to feed the hungry. The “Fighting Hunger Together” initiative is part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment through 2015 to fight hunger. Walmart and its foundation pledged to donate more than 1.1 billion pounds of food as well as $250 million in grants to support hunger-relief organizations.

Source: Staff Report

Young, Old in Arkansas Among Most Food Insecure

More than 200,000 children in Arkansas are at risk of hunger and not getting the food they need to lead healthy, active lives, according to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. More than 28 percent of children in Arkansas live in poverty and nearly 30 percent of households with children in Arkansas struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families, according to the Alliance.

A 2013 study from the Arkansas Department of Human Services found about one third of all Arkansas residents 60 or older, more than 160,000 people, are living with food insecurity. That puts Arkansas in the top tier, nationally, in seniors with food insecurity.

The study found food insecurity is caused primarily by financial hardship, but a lack of transportation and living in areas with few food stores and mobility limitations also contribute significantly.

Arkansas has one of the highest senior food insecurity rates in the country, according to studies by the AARP and the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Depending on the study, Arkansas is between first and seventh in senior food insecurity in the country for residents 60 and above. About 17 percent have marginal food insecurity, 10 recent have food insecurity and about 3 percent have very low food security, according to the AARP study. About 22 percent have some degree of food insecurity.

Some senior groups are more likely than others to face food insecurity, including African Americans, Hispanics and those who are widowed, divorced or separated, high school dropouts, renters, those with disabilities and grandparents caring for grandchildren. More than half of Arkansas seniors below 200 percent of the poverty level were food insecure last year, according to the studies.

Source: Staff Reports

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