Features
5:00 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Hunger In Missouri: The Stark Numbers

While the holidays mean an abundance of food for many of us, a rising percentage of Missourians worry about whether they’ll have enough food.

Based on 2010 data, 837,056 Missourians are not sure whether they will have sufficient food for the month.

Of those residents, 343,253 will likely skip meals or serve smaller portions to stretch food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls these measures of “food insecurity” and “very low food insecurity.”

Below, you can see the breakdown of people per county who are "food insecure," and within that number, how many experience hunger.

Those in the “sufficient food” category rely on federal food stamps (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, and food banks and other charitable organizations.

(Source: 2013 Missouri Hunger Atlas, University of Missouri’s Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security. By Kelsey Proud and Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

In Missouri both measures rose more quickly from 2000 to 2010 than in any other state, with food insecurity increasing by 7.4 percent and very low food insecurity going up 4.4 percent.

The University of Missouri’s Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security released the 2013 Missouri Hunger Atlas earlier this fall, breaking down the percentages county by county.

Maria Altman talks with Sandy Rikoon, executive director of the University of Missouri's Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security.

Rikoon says with recent cuts to the federal food stamp program SNAP, which went into effect Nov. 1, the number of people dealing with hunger very well could rise further.

The loss of stimulus dollars will mean on average $36 less for each family on food stamps.

“To those of us who are food secure, it doesn’t seem like a lot of money,” Rikoon said. “But you have to remember that a lot of these families … they barely get by each month, and so in that situation $30 or $40 difference in the household could mean two or three days of food.”

Curious about the national picture of food insecurity? See this interactive from Pew's Stateline.

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman