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Ohio Ranks 10th in Nation for Low Food Security

PHOTO: New data from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service indicates the continued prevalence of food insecurity in Ohio. PHOTO: Man purchasing produce. Credit: OAFB.
PHOTO: New data from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service indicates the continued prevalence of food insecurity in Ohio. PHOTO: Man purchasing produce. Credit: OAFB.
September 5, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Getting a meal on the dinner table continues to be a struggle for a number of Ohioans. New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates food insecurity remains a problem. More than 16 percent of Ohio households experience a time during the year when food intake was reduced and eating patterns were disrupted due to lack of money and other resources for food, according to Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

"Food insecurity rates in Ohio are above the national average. In fact, Ohio tied for third highest in the nation," Hamler-Fugitt said.

According to the USDA report, while the overall rate of food insecurity remained virtually unchanged since 2008, one out of six Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2012. Ohio ranked 10th in the nation for low food security.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), said food insecurity is an across-the-board problem, affecting people of all ages.

"There are too few jobs, and jobs frequently are paying wages that aren't enough to lift families above the poverty line, and that shows up in the food insecurity numbers," Weill explained. "Appalling numbers of Americans report struggling to buy enough food to last the entire month."

Hamler-Fugitt said the new figures make it more important than ever to protect anti-hunger programs like SNAP (food stamps), which means Congress should pass a Farm Bill that does not cut SNAP benefits.

"With the potential, and even harmful, cuts on the horizon, now is the time for Congress to act to ensure that benefits are appropriate and meet the nutritional levels of more and more struggling Americans," she said.

Regardless of the outcome of the Farm Bill, SNAP benefits will drop in November with the expiration of the stimulus spending from 2009. For a household of three, it means $29 less a month to spend on food.

The report is available at http://ers.usda.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH