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Hungry for Solution: TN Ranks 13th for Food Insecurity

Tennessee households continue to experience food insecurity at levels higher than most other parts of the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the Food Research and Action Center. (leosaumurejr/flickr.com)
Tennessee households continue to experience food insecurity at levels higher than most other parts of the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the Food Research and Action Center. (leosaumurejr/flickr.com)
September 8, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 15 percent of Tennessee households are short on food in their pantries and refrigerators.

That figure places the state near the bottom in the country when it comes to food insecurity, according to new data released on Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The rates are higher in households with children, minority households and those headed by a single man or woman.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, says the Volunteer State has some work to do when it comes to improving access to food.

"They are even higher in Tennessee, which Tennessee has among the worst rate of food insecurity of any state in the nation,” he states. “It ranks 13th worst among the states."

Among the recommendations to address food hardship, FRAC recommends that states boost jobs, wages and access to school and child care nutrition programs.

There are 479,000 low-income children in Tennessee receiving free or reduced price lunches, but only 61 percent of them are getting a school breakfast, which experts say is one way to reduce food insecurity among children.

Nationwide, food insecurity has declined from 2014 to 2015 – with 13.4 percent of households struggling with hunger in 2015.

That still leaves 42 million Americans living in food insecure households.

Weill says action must be taken on the state and federal level.

"We need higher employment rates,” he stresses. “We need better wages for low-income workers and we need stronger government support programs. We need a stronger food stamp program, a stronger school lunch and school breakfast and child care food programs."

This year, Tennessee kicked off the No Tennessee Child Hungry Awareness Campaign. As part of the campaign, the state is working to raise awareness of the Summer Food Service Programs available.


Stephanie Carson/Scott Herron, Public News Service - TN