InfoGraphic: Food Hardship in Central Texas

April 8, 2010 § 1 Comment

Food hardship is the inability to buy enough food for the household because of lack of money. Unlike the USDA’s food insecurity data, food hardship is determined from one question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” Food insecurity, on the other hand, is determined from a series of questions that evaluate access to food in economically and socially acceptable ways, the ability to sustain access to food, and the quantity and quality of available food. Answers to these questions place individuals and households on a spectrum of food security ranging from high food security to very low food security (formerly known as hunger).

The Advantage of  Food Hardship Data

This new data collected by Gallup as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) provides insight into the hardship Americans face in putting food on the table. Never before has there been such localized and up-to-date data available on a quarterly and annual basis.

How does Central Texas compare to the state and the nation?

Food hardship for the nation ranged from 16.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to a high of 19.5 percent in 2008 and dipped slightly to 18.5 percent in 2009. While no state in the nation had a food hardship rate below 10 percent, Texas is one of 20 states with a food hardship rate of 20 percent or higher. At 20.9 percent in 2009, Texas ranks 13th worst in food hardship. The Many Eyes graphic below shows food hardship rates for the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and congressional districts in Central Texas for 2008-2009.

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What’s clear is that food hardship affects every county, every city and every congressional district in the nation. Central Texas stands out in some aspects as doing slightly better than other parts of Texas, but not enough to declare that we do not have a serious problem on our hands.  We do have a problem, one that needs to be addressed by fixing the SNAP eligibility system, sufficient funding for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, and supporting the Food Bank as we provide immediate food relief.

Further Reading:

Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index

Food Research and Action Center – Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger

Measuring Household Food Security (USDA)

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