Nearly one in five Americans and one in seven Nebraskans had difficulty affording food in the last year according to a report, “Food Hardship in America 2011,” released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
“It’s concerning that food hardship continues to increase in our state, as does participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program (SNAP),” states Rebecca Gould, executive director at Nebraska Appleseed.
In Nebraska, food hardship rates rose in every Congressional District. The rates were:
- First Congressional District 12.5% (2011) / 11.3% (2010)
- Second Congressional District 17% (2011) / 15.2% (2010)
- Third Congressional District 15% (2011) / 12.8% (2010)
“If we are going to address this growing problem, we must prioritize the needs of working families in our state, and protect the programs that serve them, in order to build economic stability in Nebraska. Simple solutions do exist, including steps the Nebraska Legislature can take this session.” states Gould.
Two bills addressing hunger in Nebraska are currently under consideration in the Legislature:
- LB 1010 would make it easier for families with significant bills to access SNAP
- LB 1090 would provide resources to organizations working to start up or expand summer feeding sites.
Nationally, 18.6% of respondents reported food hardship in 2011, an increase from the 2010 level of 18% and the highest annual rate in the four years that FRAC has been tracking these data. “Rising food prices, continuing high unemployment and underemployment, and flat food stamp benefit allotments all contributed to the high food hardship rate in 2011,” said FRAC President Jim Weill.