Study: Hunger in Riley, Geary counties higher than national average

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The national anti-hunger nonprofit, Feeding America, announced new data this week through a press release that reveals food insecurity exists in every county in Harvesters’ service area including Riley County, where the food insecurity rate of 17.9 percent is higher than the national average (12.3 percent) and remains higher than pre-recession numbers.

It said Pottawatomie County’s rate was 10.9 percent for 2016. Geary County’s was 17.2 percent.

Harvesters provides food and household products to nearly 620 nonprofit partner agencies in 16 counties in northeast Kansas and 10 counties in northwest Missouri.

Map the Meal Gap 2018 shows overall food insecurity rates in Harvesters’ Kansas counties range from a low of 10.1 percent of the population in Wabaunsee County to 17.9 percent of people in Riley County. Food insecurity in Harvesters’ Missouri counties ranges from a low of 11.1 percent in Clay County to 17.2 percent in Jackson County.

In Riley County, food-insecure individuals face a food budget shortfall of $21.44 per person each week. The average cost of a meal in Riley County is now $3.81.

The report also shows 38 percent of families facing hunger in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance and, as such, must rely on charitable food banks to help put meals on their tables.

Across the 26-counties Harvesters’ serves, 1 in 7, or more than 353,380 people are food insecure, which means they may have a meal today, but do not know if their family will have food tomorrow. The new data shows hunger continues to be a problem in every county Harvesters serves, and that hungry people can be found everywhere – in rural, suburban and urban communities. Hunger rates are higher for children (17.5% versus 13.9% for general population).

Map the Meal Gap 2018 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

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