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Nearly One in Five Missourians Faced 'Food Hardship' in 2012

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A report published by the Food Research and Action Center, or FRAC, reveals that many Missourians faced “food hardship” in 2012. “Food hardship” is the term used for the inability to afford enough food.  KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser has more.

Jeanette Mott Oxford is the executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, or MASW.

“There was a Gallup poll that’s been conducted since 2008 where one of the questions is, ‘Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?’”

According to the report, nearly one in five Missouri residents, or just over 18 percent, reported not having the money to buy enough food for themselves or their families at some point in 2012. The seventh Congressional district, which includes Springfield, was higher than the state average, with a food hardship rate of over 19 percent. That number was exceeded by only the eighth district, which had a food hardship rate of almost 21 percent. The eighth district covers south-central and southeast Missouri.

Nationally, Missouri is right in the middle, ranking 25th in food hardship. The national food hardship average is 18.2 percent. That rate has remained virtually unchanged since FRAC began publishing the food hardship report in 2008. The FRAC report attributes the steady rate to high unemployment and underemployment, as well as stagnant wages and what it refers to as “inadequate public programs.”

Oxford agrees, saying that the underlying causes of poverty need to be tackled, and improvements made to public programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as “food stamps.”

“At this point in Missouri we’re averaging about $1.40 per person per meal with the food stamp benefits that folks get on their SNAP card. It’s really hard to feed a family adequately with $1.40 per person per meal.”

For a link to the full FRAC report, click here.

For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.