Tuesday, November 17, 2009

USDA Data Shows New Mexico Households Still Very Food Insecure

By Robin Stephenson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released US Food Insecurity data for 2008 this week and the results are not encouraging.  

According to an analysis by Bread for the World, a record numbers of American’s are going hungry.

Bread's analysis uncovered a few startling facts: 

  • The number of food insecure households increased from 13 million in 2007 to 17.1 million in 2008.
  • 49.1 million people lived in food insecure households, an increase of 12.9 million from 2007 to 2008.
  • The number of children experiencing hunger, or very low food security, topped one million for the first time since data has been collected.
  • 37.2 percent of households made up of single mothers and their children were food insecure
  • Food insecurity among Hispanic households grew by 35.3 percent, or 947,000 households from 2007 to 2008.
What Does this Mean for New Mexico? 
 These are more than just numbers.  In them are reflected the lives and dinner tables of New Mexico families.  Although New Mexico has made strides in decreasing food insecurity rates by household (-0.9%) from 2007 to 2008, the state still ranks fifth, with 14.1 percent of New Mexico households in food insecure 2008. 

  • As of November 9, 2009, SNAP or Food Stamp participation in New Mexico is 133,205 households, with 321,422 individuals using the program.
  • School lunch programs, one of the most successful programs in combating child hunger, served 217,092 of New Mexico’s children in 2008.
  • TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program), which helps meet the short term emergency food need provided through food banks and church pantries distributed $1,892,533 worth of food to New Mexico.
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program which provides monthly food packages to qualifying low-income people served 16,420 New Mexicans in 2008.
  • [Note: All 2008 data is preliminary]
All these programs provide a vital lifeline to both New Mexico’s adults and children.  Bread for the World continues to follow legislation on Child Nutrition Reauthorization.  Congress needs to hear that these programs are important. 

(The author is the field organizer for Bread for the World's western region, which includes New Mexico and 11 other states.  Photo by Margaret Neas from Bread for the World website

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