MEDIA RELEASE: Deep food insecurity persists in North Carolina but policies exist to aid families, new report finds

RALEIGH (Nov. 20, 2018) – Thanksgiving has nearly arrived, a holiday deeply enmeshed in food and consumption. However, food insecurity persists here in North Carolina, where nearly 590,000 households don't have enough to eat each day, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. The state has the 10th highest rate of food security in the U.S.

"When families experience food insecurity — when not every family member has access to nutritious food choices that support healthy lifestyles —they often have to make difficult choices about the quality and amounts of food they are able to provide," said Brian Kennedy II, public policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center and author of the report. "Families with very low food insecurity may be forced to skip meals all together."

Food security differs wildly from home to home, the report said. Households with children or those that are headed by single women are more likely to struggle putting healthy food on the table. When a family is headed by a white person, they face food insecurity at a rate of 8.8 percent compared to 21. 8 and 18 percent for Black and Latinx families, respectively, pointing to systemic issues such as the racial and gender-pay gap as well as extremely high child care costs.

Because of the high rates of families and individuals experiencing hunger, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has served as a critical tool in helping North Carolinians access nutritious foods, the report said. SNAP, the largest anti-hunger program in the nation, plays a significant role in reducing poverty, improving the health outcomes of children, and making sure families don't have to make tough choices between paying the rent or placing food on the table. SNAP is also responsible for stimulating local economies as one of the nation's most effective public-private partnerships. Last year, roughly 9,700 business across the state participated in the SNAP program, bringing in more than $2.14 billion in benefits.

"SNAP's poverty fighting effect —along with its ability to support families in critical times of need and boost local economies — is what makes this program such an effect and important tool to fight hunger," Kennedy said. "Yet over the last few years state and federal lawmakers have considered, and in some cases passed, harmful measures that have negatively impacted SNAP and in turn increased hunger in our state."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Brian Kennedy, briank@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2153 or Julia Hawes, Director of Communications, julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406.

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