17% of households in NC struggle to meet their food & nutrition needs

September 6, 2012 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Yesterday, Progressive Pulse linked to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report that looked at food insecurity– when access to food is limited because of a lack of money or resources– among American households. The study found that 14.9 percent of households, or 17.9 million households in the nation are food insecure, and of these, 5.7 percent, or 6.8 million households, experience very low security. The typical food insecure household experienced food insecurity for seven months out of the year, and for a few days in each of those months. The way that people experience food insecurity ranges from having to cut the size of meals or skip meals  because there was not enough food, fearing that food would run out before there would be money to buy more, being unable to afford eating balanced meals, and several other concerns.

Food insecurity is even more serious for households headed by single women (36.8 percent), black households (25.1 percent), Hispanic households (26.2 percent), and low-income households at 185 percent below the poverty line (34.5%). In North Carolina, out of the 3.7 million households, 17.1 percent are food insecure (over 636,000 households) and 5.8 percent experience very low food security (almost 216,000 households).

A few weeks ago, we reported on the latest obesity figures published by the Center for Disease Control, which showed that the obesity rate in North Carolina topped 29 percent. These two indicators– food insecurity and high obesity– illustrate the problem with our food system today. With healthy foods out of the reach, due to either the cost or because healthy foods are not available in many “food deserts” across the state, many households are forced to purchase cheaper, lower-quality, less nutritious foods to meet their nutrition needs.  Unfortunately, this means that many adults and children suffer from health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

What can be done to expand access to healthy foods?  We are hoping to answer this question at a healthy foods forum this fall, “North Carolina Grown: Moving Healthy Foods from Farms to Kitchens.”  The Support Center and a broad range of partners will be hosing this event on October 9 at the Kuory Center in Greensboro, and invite all stakeholders in the supply chain of healthy foods in the state– from farmers, distributors and retailers to restaurateurs and advocates– to explore how we can work together to tackle the issue of food access and  health in the state. Registration is now open at www.thesupportcenter-nc.org/NCGrown.

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