Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Food Insecurity: A national, state and local issue

This topic was discussed on September 23, 2013.
September is “hunger action month,” a project of nationwide food-bank network Feeding America. This has drawn substantial publicity around the issue of food insecurity, including highlighting a recent US Department of Agriculture report “Household Food Security in the United States in 2012.”

  • How should we interpret the USDA study? In particular, how do we feel about some of the subtleties of the study:
    • the definitional difference between “food insecure” and “very food insecure”
    • the survey questions asked
    • the difference between “at any time during the year” and “during the last 30 days” statistics (and their derivatives, the average daily incidence of food insecurity)
    • the difference between “household” food insecurity and that for specific household members (children)
  • What should we do to reduce food insecurity?
    • Enhanced welfare programs (in the context of statistics offered by the USDA on the “Thrifty Food Cost” and the average monthly SNAP payment)?
    • What about the demographic analysis in the report (e.g., households led by a single female experiencing disproportionately higher food insecurity)? Does this recommend some other potential approaches?
    • The time-series data show a significant jump in food insecurity in 2007/2008, most likely associated with the recession. To what extent might steps to encourage job creation help to mitigate the issue?
    • How about the local issues? Maine’s incidence of food insecurity is higher than the national average and we know it is a real issue here on the Blue Hill Peninsula. What should be done to address the needs of our neighbors?

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