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The Great American Food Crisis

The Great American Food Crisis

The latest United States jobs report brought good news: the unemployment rate continues to drop, and low unemployment almost always signals good economic health for the country. However, food insecurity plagues almost one in eight Americans, which amounts to almost 40 million people. This number is higher than it was before the recession. Prior to the recession, food insecurity affected one in ten Americans, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Food insecurity is the lack of money or resources to secure enough to eat. The nonprofit organization, Feeding America compiles data every year and reports its findings in a report called Map the Meal Gap. Through 60,000 meal programs and 200 food banks, Feeding America serves 4 billion meals each year to those experiencing food insecurity.

As Craig Gundersen, a professor at the University of Illinois’s department of agricultural and consumer economics observed: “We haven’t even returned to the baseline before the Great Recession, and that’s of great concern. There’s something going wrong in our country that we really have to start addressing. Why hasn’t this fallen more? I think the food insecurity rate is one of the best barometers we have of well-being in our country.”

Where is food insecurity present at the highest levels? Rural counties. Rural counties make up almost 78 percent of the highest food insecurity rates. And since rural counties are only just 63 percent of counties in the country, these rural areas have a disproportionate share of hungry people living in them.