This week, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its national analysis of food hardship in the U.S. in a report titled “Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit.”
The analysis, which used research from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey, contains both national and state-level data on hunger.
According to the survey, 15.9 percent of Nebraska households with children and 10 percent of households without children reported difficulty in affording food. Nebraska ranked 7th best among all states and the District of Columbia for families who reported struggling to buy food in 2015.
Furthermore, the survey also ranks the nation’s 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In the Omaha/Council Bluffs MSA, 16.1 percent of households with children faced food insecurity, the 84th highest rate in the nation.
Nebraska’s hunger struggles mirror the national picture. Across the U.S. 19.2 percent of families with children and 14.2 percent of families without children struggled to afford meals. This is slightly lower than in 2014, but still unacceptably high in our country.
“Too many Americans are unable to afford enough food for their families,” FRAC president Jim Weill said. “Hunger has serious consequences for anyone, but children are particularly vulnerable as their physical and cognitive development is at risk. These findings are simply unacceptable, especially since there are solutions to end hunger now.”
Despite an improving economy, far too many Nebraskans — especially Nebraska children — still live in households that struggle against hunger.
Nebraska leaders must continue to improve proven systems that fight hunger and poverty in our state. These solutions include strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and improving eligibility so more Nebraska families struggling to eat can get food assistance.
There are also common-sense steps that can be taken to make sure our children are getting the food they need both at school and during the summer months when school is out. We encourage all eligible Nebraska schools to consider the adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision to fight classroom hunger, and urge communities to start Summer Food Service Program sites, where they can get federal reimbursement to serve meals to kids in the summer.
Communities suffer when families, especially children, go hungry. By taking steps to end hunger in Nebraska, we are giving families the tools they need to get ahead and making sure our children are getting the meals they need to learn, grow, and be healthy.