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Report: Nearly 1 Million Missourians are Food Insecure

More than 30 percent of the Missourians who are considered food insecure are children. (Juan Esteban Zapata)
More than 30 percent of the Missourians who are considered food insecure are children. (Juan Esteban Zapata)
May 5, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Nearly a million people are food insecure in Missouri, meaning they don't always have enough food or access to food to meet their needs, according to the latest "Map the Meal Gap" report by the group Feeding America.

The overall food-insecurity rate for Missouri is close to 16 percent, with some counties experiencing more need than others.

Ozarks Food Harvest serves 28 counties in southwest Missouri, working with dozens of hunger-relief groups.

Ozarks' communications coordinator, Christine Temple, says about a quarter of the residents in that part of the state seek help from charities at any given time because they just don't have enough to eat.

"In addition to the people who are food insecure, there are some people that are dealing with unemployment, under-employment, poverty," she says. "People that might be having a particular situation in their life, a circumstantial event - a car breaks down, someone gets sick."

Temple says more than half the households in Missouri that receive some kind of food assistance include either a child or a senior – in many cases, both.

She noted that many people believe hunger is a big-city problem, but that isn't the case in Missouri, where food banks can't reach all who need their help.

"So many rural communities that are completely reliant on the one grocery store that's within their town," she adds. "And if that goes out of business or if that doesn't provide food that people can afford, that's another thing we worry about."

The "Map the Meal Gap" report notes that Missouri's food-insecurity rate has dropped a little from last year. It says Arkansas' rate tops 18 percent, and Mississippi has the nation's highest, at just over 21 percent.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO