Filed Under:  Business, Food, Local, News, Regional

New study highlights La.’s growing hunger crisis

29th August 2011   ·   0 Comments

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, on Thursday re­leased a new study which reveals that 22 percent of children under the age of 18 in Louisiana are struggling with hunger.

The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011,” also reveals that there are children struggling with hunger in every county in America. Nationally, while one in six Americans overall is food-insecure, the rate for children is much higher: Nearly one in four children is food-insecure.

“One in five children in south Louisiana is food-insecure and the number is growing,” said Natalie Jayroe, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans. “Good nutrition is absolutely critical for children to learn and succeed in school and in life. Far too many children in Louisiana are going to bed hungry each night.”

“Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity” provides the following data for south Louisiana, by parish, in an interactive map format:
• The percentage of the population who is food-insecure.
• The percentage of children that is eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.
• The percentage of children that is not eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutri­tion Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.

An executive summary of the report can be found at: www.no-hunger.org.

The study is an important tool because it provides critical information for developing strategies to alleviate child hunger.

“With this first-ever data fo­cused on the prevalence of child food insecurity (CFI) at the parish level, we can actively engage local communities and implement proven strategies to alleviate child hunger,” added Jayroe. “For example, households living above 185 percent of the federal poverty line typically are not eligible for federal child nutrition programs like reduced-price school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These children have few options for obtaining food assistance outside of Second Harvest Food Bank or other charitable food programs.”

By providing additional details about the face of child food insecurity at the county level, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011” will enable Second Harvest Food Bank, the community based agencies they serve and policy-makers to redefine approaches in addressing needs of hungry children and their families and develop more effective policy solutions.

This research is supported by ConAgra Foods Foundation. The Foundation funded this research with the goal of advancing the collective understanding of child hunger in America, so that resources at the local and national level could be better leveraged to help children and families in need.

The research is based on “Map the Meal Gap 2011: Food Insecurity Esti­mates at the Coun­ty/Parish Level,” supported by the Ho­ward G. Buffett Foun­dation and Nielsen.

This article originally published in the August 29, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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