FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jen Adach, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 986-2200 x3018
Baltimore , Md. – September 7, 2011 – In Maryland, 12.5 percent of households struggled with hunger on average during the 2008-2010 period, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The food insecurity number was considerably higher than in the past – in 2005-2007, it was 8.6 percent. While Maryland’s rate stayed below the national average – Maryland’s average per capita income is well above the national rate – this jump shows the impact of the recession on Marylanders and underscores the need to do more to reduce hunger in the state.
Among the 12.5 percent of people in Maryland households considered to be food insecure during the 2008-2010 period, 5.1 percent were living in households that were considered to have “very low food security.”; People that fall into this USDA category had more severe problems experiencing hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis for both adults and children. Again, this was an increase from 2005-2007, when only 3.4 percent were considered to have very low food security.
“Maryland is home to some of the wealthiest counties in the nation, but too many people in our state continue to struggle with hunger. The fact that food insecurity increased so significantly in Maryland underscores the need for our state to reach more eligible people with available nutrition assistance like food stamps. Participation in many of these programs falls short in Maryland, and more must be done to connect people to programs that can help,” said Cathy Demeroto, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.
Increasing the number of people reached by the federal nutrition programs is one of the main goals of Maryland Hunger Solutions and of The Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, of which Maryland Hunger Solutions is a core partner. Higher participation in the federal nutrition programs would mean less hunger, healthier children, more federal dollars flowing into the state, more economic growth, and more jobs.
“The increase in food insecurity also underscores the need to keep our nation’s safety net strong. These are programs that can help struggling families, and Congress must ensure that all deficit negotiations protect nutrition programs and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people,” said Demeroto.
To raise awareness of growing hunger in the state, Maryland Hunger Solutions is hosting its second annual Food Stamp Challenge during the week of September 19 to 25. More than 75 people across the state — including Rosemary Malone, Director of the Family Investment Administration, Department of Human Resources; Rosemary King Johnston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Children; and Delegate Alfred Carr (Montgomery County) – are joining Demeroto in using the average food stamp benefit as their entire budget for food and beverage during the challenge week. In Maryland, the average weekly food stamp benefit is $30 per person.
“The goal of the Challenge is to illustrate the struggles facing more and more low-income Marylanders, and the limited choices they have – including what they can afford, what is healthy, and where they can shop,” said Demeroto. “We hope to shed a light on the challenges facing many in our state, and the need to keep nutrition programs strong so they can provide for the needs of low-income Marylanders.”
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About the USDA Report
Since 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture, using data from surveys conducted annually by the Census Bureau, has released estimates of the number of people in households that are food insecure. Food insecure households are those that are not able to afford an adequate diet at all times in the past 12 months. The report also includes food insecurity rates for each state, but for states it uses three-year averages to give a better estimate of the number of households experiencing food insecurity. Experts agree that the Census/USDA measure of food insecurity is a conservative one, with the result that only households experiencing substantial food insecurity are so classified.