Study: 17% of Kentuckians struggle with hunger

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BEREA, KY (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Association of Food Banks announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America that details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the United States. The study reveals that 17 percent of the population in Kentucky is food insecure, amounting to 743,310 people, including 222,380 children.

Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

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Kentucky’s rate is higher than the national rate of nearly 15 percent. While the rate has decreased since 2011, the prevalence of food insecurity across counties remains historically high since 2008, and has not yet returned to pre-Great Recession levels.

Key local findings:

  • Food insecurity exists in every county in Kentucky.
  • Wolfe County has the highest food insecurity rate in the state, at 22.8 percent. Oldham County has the lowest food insecurity rate in the state, at 9.0 percent.
  • The 5th Congressional District has the highest food insecurity rate of Kentucky’s congressional districts, at 19.8 percent.
  • Children are at a higher risk of food insecurity; 22 percent of Kentucky’s children are food- insecure. Eleven Kentucky counties have childhood insecurity rates of 30 percent or higher: Wolfe (37.0 percent); Harlan (31.6 percent); Clay (31.4 percent); Knox (31.1 percent); McCreary (30.7 percent); Magoffin (30.7 percent); Lee (30.5 percent); Jackson (30.3 percent); Martin (30.3 percent); Breathitt (30.2 percent); and Lewis (30.0 percent).
  • 29.8 percent of Kentuckians in food-insecure households have incomes above 185 percent of the poverty line, making them likely ineligible for most federal nutrition assistance programs.
  • The “Food Budget Shortfall” – the additional dollars food-insecure Kentuckians report needing to meet their food needs – was $346,164,000.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.