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Report Connects Food Insecurity to Health Issues, Including Diabetes

PHOTO: According to Feeding America's new Hunger in America 2014 report, one in seven Americans depends on food bank assistance, while one in five U.S. households served by Feeding America food banks has at least one member who has served in the military. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: According to Feeding America's new Hunger in America 2014 report, one in seven Americans depends on food bank assistance, while one in five U.S. households served by Feeding America food banks has at least one member who has served in the military. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
August 19, 2014

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. - A new report issued by Feeding America lends new insight into the breadth of hunger issues across the U.S., and how close hunger comes to many Americans. The report indicates one in seven Americans currently turns to a food bank for help, and of those who go to a food bank, about 40 percent have education beyond high school while one in 10 is a student working toward a higher education certification.

Andrew Bell, marketing manager with the Mid-South Food Bank, says the report also takes a look at how food insecurity is connected to health.

"Being hungry is a health issue," says Bell. "An estimated 33 percent of U.S. households report at least one member with diabetes, and at least 60 percent of households report at least one member with high blood pressure."

Bell explains the statistics paint a better picture for the public about who is having trouble regularly putting healthy food on the table, and how charities are facing more demand to fill the gaps when jobs are scarce or do not pay livable wages.

Bell also notes how food assistance has changed over the years, with a greater emphasis on healthy foods instead of pre-packaged foods. His organization offers education on how to prepare fresher ingredients.

"We go in and we prepare hot meals for kids at Boys and Girls clubs. We try to incorporate how to cook healthy and how to maximize the food resources to go a longer way but in a healthy way," he says.

According to the study, one in five households served by Feeding America network food banks has at least one member who has served in the military, and nearly 620,000 have at least one member who is currently serving on active duty, in the reserves or in the National Guard.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR