High food prices have contributed to a stubborn food-insecurity rate across the more than 3,100 counties in the U.S. during the last decade, a new report shows.
But exactly who is at risk of going hungry varies across the country.
“If we want to look at the health and well-being of America, one of the best ways to look at it is through food insecurity,” says Craig Gundersen, lead researcher for hunger relief organization Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project, which explores hunger and related trends in local communities.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some 40 million people in the U.S. were food-insecure in 2017, meaning they lacked consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life. And although the national food-insecurity rate among individuals fell between 2016 and 2017 – from 12.9% to 12.5% – it remained above what it was before the Great Recession that began in 2007.
The latest annual Map the Meal Gap report, published Wednesday, shows the food-insecurity rate across U.S. counties was a similar 13.3% in 2017, down from 13.7% the year before. Rates ranged from a top mark of nearly 36% in Jefferson County, Mississippi, to just 3% in North Dakota’s Steele County, yet researchers say no place is immune from the problem.
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