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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nearly 12 Percent of Wisconsin Households Struggle to Meet Food Needs

Nearly 12 Percent of Wisconsin Households Struggle to Meet Food Needs

A newly released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that that 11.8 percent of Wisconsin households were food insecure – or lacking assured access to enough food for a healthy and active life during 2008-2010. The number represents a nearly three-percentage-point increase over the previous three year period when the rate was nine percent.

While Wisconsin continues to fare better than the nation as a whole, food insecurity has increased as fast in Wisconsin as it has nationwide – more than 30 percent since 2005-2007.

The rise in food insecurity is consistent with other trends in the state. Wisconsin’s poverty and unemployment rates, and the share of residents participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) have all increased substantially in the past several years. All of these indicators point to an increase in economic hardship impacting Wisconsin families.

Both in Wisconsin and nationwide, certain households are more at risk for food insecurity. Groups at high risk include the poor and low-income, households with children, single-parent households, minorities, and households of people with disabilities.

Precise data on how food insecurity varies around the state are not available, but food insecurity is strongly linked to poverty. In general – poverty and thus food insecurity – is more prevalent in Milwaukee, as well as broadly in the more northern parts of the state.

While income is important, other factors matter as well. Research has found that food insecurity is more common when prevailing rent in an area is higher, when there is very low proximity to supermarkets, and when unemployment is more widespread.

Source: Judi Bartfeld, UW-Extension Food Security Research and Policy Specialist and Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty’s RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition assistance Research and Amber Canto, UW-Extension Poverty and Food Security Specialist

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