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Report: Hunger Crisis Persists in Missouri

PHOTO: About 17 percent of Missourians have struggled to afford food at some point during the past 12 months, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center. Photo credit: gleangenie/morguefile.
PHOTO: About 17 percent of Missourians have struggled to afford food at some point during the past 12 months, according to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center. Photo credit: gleangenie/morguefile.
April 8, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Despite some signs that the economy is improving, too many Missourians still are struggling to feed their families, according to a new report.

The study from the Food Research and Action Center found that nearly 17-percent of Missourians, or one in six households, have experienced food hardship in the past year, meaning there simply was not enough money to buy enough food to meet the family's needs.

Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri, said that isn't surprising given how many Missourians don't have adequate resources.

"We know that of non-elderly households in Missouri, one out of five families has income of less than $18,000 a year, and another one out of five is between that $18,000 and $33,000 a year," she said. "So, that 40 percent of Missourians are really going to struggle."

Missouri ranks 22nd in the nation for food hardship, according to the report.

Given the state's hunger crisis, Mott Oxford said, she's deeply disturbed by discussions at the federal level about cutting programs that help so many Missourians put food on the table, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

"There's a whole lot of folks working to alleviate hunger and poverty in our state," she said, "and we don't know what we would do without the assistance of programs like SNAP that provide help for families."

Without addressing the hunger crisis, she said, there is no way for the state to move forward in many critical areas.

"It has consequences in terms of health; it has consequences in terms of energy level, consequences in terms of concentration," she said. "When you're hungry, you're more apt to relapse into addictions, so access to food is important on every single level out there."

The full report - "How Hungry is America?" - is available on the Food Research and Action Center's website, frac.org.

Mona Shand/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - MO