The recession has meant that high numbers of all types of households have been struggling to purchase adequate food, but households with children suffered extraordinarily high rates, according to a new national report released Sept. 18.
In surveys running for five years through 2012, nearly one in four households with children said they couldn’t consistently afford food, even as the House Majority Leadership is proposing to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by a staggering $40 billion.
“Food Hardship 2008-2012: Geography and Household Structure,” released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), found that in surveys from 2008 to 2012, 24 percent of households with children in Missouri said there were times in the prior year when they did not have enough money to buy food that they needed for themselves or their family.
More than 17 percent of households without children Missouri said they faced the same struggle, a rate that placed Missouri among the 15 states with the worst rates.
This report is consistent with data released by the federal government this month which show how many Americans continue to struggle. Food insecurity data, released by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), show that 16.7 percent in Missouri struggled with hunger during the 2010 to 2012 period.
(Those data are not broken down by households with and without children.)
And national poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the national poverty rate has remained at elevated rates since the recession began.
“What these numbers tell us is that there’s a new reality for too many Americans. Hunger and poverty rates spiked at the beginning of the recession and have stayed high ever since,” said Glenn Koenen, chair of MASW’s Hunger Task Force.
“Charities such as food pantries in Missouri cannot keep up with demand, even at current levels of food stamps. Cuts to SNAP would worsen an already dire situation.”
The FRAC analysis examines food hardship rates — the inability to afford enough food — for households with and without children. Data are available for the nation, every state and region, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri.
Findings for food hardship for surveys from 2008-2012 in Missouri include:
• 24.0 percent of households with children in Missouri said they were unable to afford enough food. The food hardship rate for households without children was 17.1 percent.
• Regionally, the Midwest had a food hardship rate of 23.2 percent for households with children and 15.1 percent for those consisting only of adults.
• For the Kansas City MSA, the food hardship rate for households with children was 20.0 percent and 15.3 percent for households without children.
• For the St. Louis MSA, the food hardship rate for households with children was 21.3 percent and 13.3 percent for households without children.
The full analysis is available at www.frac.org.