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The Waffle House shooter had an earlier weapons arrest near the White House. Also on our Monday rundown: new eviction data underscores America’s affordable-housing crisis; plus we will take you to a state where one county is putting juvenile justice under public health.

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Report: Hunger Plagues Missouri

Twenty-one-point-six percent of Missouri children live in a food-insecure household, according to a new report. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
Twenty-one-point-six percent of Missouri children live in a food-insecure household, according to a new report. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
January 20, 2016

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - New data shows too many Missourians, including pregnant women, young children, veterans and the elderly, are missing out on critical nutrition and access to regular, healthy meals.

Missouri ranks sixth worst in the nation for food insecurity, and second to last for hunger, according to a new report from the Missouri Foundation for Health. Vice president of health policy Ryan Barker says while jobs have returned to many parts of the state, in many cases, wages are not keeping up with inflation.

"We are seeing jobs come back and the economy improve, but not for everybody, and so there are folks being left behind. In Missouri almost one in six families are food insecure," says Barker.

The report recommends policymakers build and improve retail food stores through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, increase the state's minimum wage, change zoning policies to allow for more community gardens and farmers markets, and improve transportation and other barriers that create so-called food deserts in parts of the state.

Barker says he believes investing in access to healthy food will payoff in the long run, because of the link between hunger and many costly long-term public health issues, including obesity. He says while many people think of the hungry as being frail and thin, that's not often the case.

"Folks may buy food that is cheap, that will fill them up," he says. "But that is often food that is high in calories, fat, sodium, sugar, which is not good and it leads to excess weight gain."

Barker adds that increasing outreach and education around the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is also needed, as many eligible Missourians are not currently receiving benefits.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO