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21.3 Percent of Households in Oklahoma Unable to Afford Enough Food in 2011

Fight Against Hunger More Important Than Ever in Oklahoma

March 19, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY - 21.3 percent of respondents in Oklahoma reported in 2011 not having enough money to buy food that they, or their family, needed at some points during the prior twelve months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). 

This unique report provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every region, every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Oklahoma City.  For Oklahoma, it found that:

  • In 2011, 21.3 percent in the state said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • For Oklahoma City, the food hardship rate was 21.9 percent in 2010-2011.
  • All of the Congressional Districts in Oklahoma City had 15 percent or more of their residents reporting food hardship in 2010-2011.

“This  new data shows us just how much people are struggling in our communities, and underlines that far too many of them are finding it a challenge to afford enough food for their families,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.   “And it shows us that our nation’s safety net must be made stronger, not weaker. We can’t afford to leave people behind.”

FRAC’s food hardship report analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the 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?”

“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. “Particularly challenging was the increase in food inflation, especially for the foods the government uses to construct the Thrifty Food Plan, its cheapest diet. Food stamp beneficiaries lost more than six percent of their food purchasing power because of this increase.”

The Regional Food Bank was in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America. With more than 700 attendees, the conference culminated on Tuesday (February 28, 2012) with a day on Capitol Hill, and attendees shared state and congressional district data with their lawmakers.  The Regional Food Bank joined in urging Members of Congress to strengthen the federal nutrition programs so benefits are more adequate and so they reach more households.

Recent polling data, released last month by FRAC, demonstrate the broad support among Americans for the federal nutrition programs and for a stronger role by government in ending hunger. Seven in 10 voters said the federal government should have a major role to ensure that low-income families and children have the food and nutrition they need. Seventy-seven percent of voters say that cutting food stamp assistance (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) would be the wrong way to reduce government spending.

“Even in difficult times, this nation has the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone. These data show that no community in our state is anywhere close to being hunger-free, and that more must be done to solve this problem,” said Bivens.   “It is time for our elected officials to tackle hunger with the zeal that the situation demands.”

The full report is available at www.frac.org.

About This Report

This report is the latest in the Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) series of analyses of survey data on food hardship collected by Gallup as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It provides the most up-to-date examination of the struggle that very large numbers of American households are having affording enough food.

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is a private, 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that acts as a link through which the food industry and community may donate food and other goods. The products are then distributed to nearly 1,000 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank distributed 46.2 million pounds of food and product to help the charitable community effectively feed people in need. Since its inception in 1980, the Food Bank has distributed more than 432 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry. Visit regionalfoodbank.org or scan the QR code below to learn more.

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