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Report: 18 Percent of SD Kids are Food Insecure

About 39,000 South Dakota children, or 18 percent, live in homes that may not have enough money to keep food on the table. (iStockphoto)
About 39,000 South Dakota children, or 18 percent, live in homes that may not have enough money to keep food on the table. (iStockphoto)
May 2, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - More than 105,000 South Dakotans do not have access to enough food, according to new research that includes about 39,000 kids.

This year's Map the Meal Gap report shows that across the state children are at a higher risk of food insecurity than any other age group.

Kerri DeGraff, development director for Feeding South Dakota says in eight counties more than 30 percent of children live in homes that have to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as whether to buy food or pay rent.

DeGraff says those counties also have some of the highest levels of poverty.

"Many of them are very rural areas of the state," she says. "So they lack access to maybe a local food pantry or other feeding program to help offset some of their hunger needs."

DeGraff says the problem is made worse by the fact that the average price of a meal rose by about 13 cents over the past year.

She suggests that state lawmakers could renew funding for a mobile food pantry to help bring more healthy foods to underserved areas of South Dakota.

The state's overall food insecurity rate is just above 12 percent, slightly below the national average of 15 percent.

DeGraff says while those numbers have gone down over the past few years, food insecurity is still at historically higher levels than since before the Great Recession in 2008.

"Many families who are working just aren't making enough to meet their family's overall needs," she says. "Across our state, we can say that the rate of poverty, as it continues to increase, the rate of food insecurity is going to go hand-in-hand."

The report also finds about 41 percent of food-insecure people in South Dakota do not qualify for food-assistance programs.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD