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MO African-Americans Face Higher Food Insecurity

Hunger is especially prevalent in African-American households, with more than 1 in 5 in Missouri considered food insecure. (
Hunger is especially prevalent in African-American households, with more than 1 in 5 in Missouri considered food insecure. (
February 20, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Anti-poverty advocates this month during African American History Month are shining the spotlight on hunger issues faced by some people of color.

The poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.5 percent, nearly 17 percent in Missouri and even higher among African-American households, especially those headed by single women.

Eric Mitchell, director of government relations for the nonprofit group Bread for the World, says African-Americans across the country are far more likely than whites to face food insecurity.

About half of all children of color younger than age six live in poverty, and Mitchell says national leaders need to acknowledge the severity of the problem.

"It's really important for the new administration and this new Congress, quite frankly, to know the facts and to know that, you know, people aren't poor because they want to be poor,” he stresses. “But the government needs to make sure that they're not passing policies that will put people even further into poverty."

More than 1 million people in Missouri are considered food insecure. In African-American households in the state, the food insecurity rate tops 22 percent.

While there's uncertainty about what the Trump administration will do with government assistance programs, Mitchell says hunger-fighting groups are worried there will be cuts.

He says many people in the state can't afford to put food on the table consistently, and the average SNAP recipient is only able to stretch those dollars for three weeks of the month.

Mitchell says part of the problem is that people need jobs that pay enough for them to be self-sufficient.

"Not only create jobs, but create jobs in communities where they haven't seen jobs, communities where there's been high levels of concentrated poverty," he states.

Bread for the World has started a letter writing campaign urging Congress to invest in and protect anti-poverty policies and safety-net programs, including WIC, Global Nutrition, SNAP, and refundable tax credits. It's online at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO