USDA Stats Show Oklahoma Fourth Hungriest State

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports 14 percent of Oklahoma residents are “food insecure,” meaning that they lack consistent access to adequate amounts of nutritious food, and 5.9 percent are considered very low food secure, what the USDA previously defined as “food insecurity with hunger.”
This places Oklahoma as the fourth hungriest state in the nation and sixth in food insecurity. Last year Oklahoma was the eighth hungriest state in the nation and seventh in food insecurity.
Demand at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is up about 40 percent over this time last year, according to Sara Waggoner, the executive director of the Food Bank. “This report confirms what we we’ve known for more than a year now: that many of our neighbors are finding it hard to feed themselves and their families,” said Waggoner. “It is important to note that the USDA numbers reflects what was happening in 2008. Since then, the economy has significantly weakened, and there are likely many more people struggling with hunger than this report reflects.
“We continue to work on the front lines providing enough food to feed 621,000 people per month through our 450 Partner Programs in 24 counties of Eastern Oklahoma,” said Waggoner. “These organizations, many of which are grass root and faith-based centers operated solely by volunteers, serve as an oasis for the more than 50,000 people who seek relief weekly to help feed themselves and their families.
“National socio-economic indicators, including the escalating unemployment rate and the number of working-poor, lead us to believe that the number of people facing hunger will continue to rise significantly over the coming year,” added Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization of which the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is a member. “Research on previous economic recessions indicates that people who fall into the grips of poverty in a time of recession often times never recover. Many of those people are likely to be in need of our services now or in the future.”

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