Feeding America is a network of over 200 food banks. Through their efforts, 3 billion pounds of food is distributed to roughly 37 million people every year. They just released their annual report, Map the Meal Gap, which examines local food insecurity trends. Information in the 2013 report reflects data from 2011.
To help local food programs measure food insecurity within their communities, Map the Meal Gap provides information on the local level, including every county in the U.S. as well as regions served by particular food banks.
Their current estimates show the food insecurity rate in the U.S. is 16.4%, or a little over 50 million Americans. The national child food insecurity rate is 22.4%, or 16,658,000 children. These numbers stand for people who lack the resources to consistently afford enough nutritious food to live active, healthy lives.
For Oklahoma the report estimates 17.2% of the state population, or approximately 653,820 individuals, struggle with food insecurity. (For specific information on every county in Oklahoma, click here.) The statewide rate is higher than the national average, and (more…)
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Last week I wrote about attending the Tulsa premier of A Place at the Table. The film and the discussion that followed raised so many important issues I decided to write a two-part report. My previous post focused on the film. This second installment will focus on the discussion that followed.
A Place at the Table opened at the Circle Cinema on March 8th, and was followed by a panel discussion featuring three local advocates. These three local experts were:
For a little over an hour, an audience crowded the lobby of the theater as panelists talked about the local story. The conversation brought home the fact that hunger is a disturbingly local problem. Despite the continuing efforts of local organizations, the panelists were not there to report they were meeting all the needs of their clients – they were there to tell us the need is still greater than their resources. Here are just a few of the important points the panelist covered:
- Oklahoma is Among the Leaders in U.S. Hunger: The panel began with facts about hunger in our city and our state, and
if you visit the Community Food Bank’s “Hunger Fact” page it presents a similar foundation of relevent facts about food insecurity (The “Hunger Fact” webpage is no longer available. You can visit Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap and click on Oklahoma for relevent information instead.) Here are two quick indicators that Oklahoma has a problem with hunger: 1) In 2011, the USDA ranked Oklahoma fourth (more…)
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A couple of weeks ago, in my previous post, I promised to write about the Tulsa premier of A Place at the Table and the discussion that followed. It’s impossible to sum up every issue brought up by the film. It is equally impossible to write a single post about the film and the discussion that followed; too many important topics to cover. So this will be a two-part report highlighting some of the issues that I found particularly relevant. For this first installment, I want to talk about the film itself, with the understanding this in no way represents the entire list of issues raised by the documentary.
A Place at the Table draws its power from the personal stories of people struggling to afford healthy food. Experts on nutrition and hunger push the message further by explaining the negative effects long-term food insecurity has on a person’s health, education and potential. After watching this documentary, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that this problem is bigger than any one charity can tackle; it is bigger than the current funding of our social safety net can address. These are just three of the reasons why:
- The rate and requirements of SNAP benefits are out of sync with the cost of living. As the film tracks the story of Barbie, a single mother in Philadelphia, this fact becomes clear. Barbie loses her SNAP benefits entirely when she begins to earn more money, but despite a slightly higher paycheck her overall financial situation has not improved. Her children are still eating canned noodles instead of a balanced diet and their mental and physical development will be impacted as a consequence.
- The school lunch program, launched under the Truman administration, was a great idea but is currently underfunded. The film points out that less than a dollar a day per child is actually spent on food for lunches, and then demonstrates how it is impossible to make a quality meal that meets dietary needs on that budget. (more…)
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I last blogged about the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in September as part of Hunger Action Month. At the time, local restaurants were helping the food bank raise money for their Food for Kids program. Now, the food bank is sponsoring a movie screening to raise awareness about American’s underfed families. The screening will feature a new documentary called A Place at the Table. The film, brought to us by the people responsible for Food, Inc. (2006), combines the stories of real people with commentary from experts on hunger and nutrition. The film’s creators, as well as groups around the country, are hoping the film will spark a nationwide conversation about how to end hunger for nearly 50 million Americans.
Starting an honest conversation is important, because there is an ongoing problem with misconceptions and misinformation when it comes to hunger in America. Proponents of food programs are constantly trying to set the record straight. In February, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities discredited many of the details behind recent efforts to incorrectly portray safety net programs as wasteful spending. OKPolicy Blog just discussed how an Oklahoma proposal to increase work requirements for SNAP recipients would penalize underemployed Oklahomans. (SNAP is the program formerly known as food stamps). OKPolicy rightly pointed out that many (more…)
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