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Food insecurity: 1 in 9 Iowa households

Better in Iowa than U.S. average — but worse for Iowans over the decade

140904-IFP-foodinsec-boxIowa households fared better than the national average on food insecurity in 2011-13, but worse than Iowans did a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In its annual report on food insecurity, USDA reported the prevalence of food insecurity in Iowa at 11.9 percent in those years, compared to a national average of 14.6 percent.

In addition, 4.4 percent of Iowans experienced “very low food security” — households that cited several food-insecure characteristics and disruption in eating patterns because of a lack of money or other resources.

The nonpartisan Iowa Fiscal Partnership (IFP) noted that in both cases, Iowans were doing much better on the food security scales in 2001-03 than in the latest period examined.

“While Iowans’ very low food security was lower than the national average of 5.7 percent, it was almost 50 percent higher than it had been only a decade before,” said Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, part of IFP. Owen noted that level had risen from a 3.0 percent average for 2001-03 to 4.4 percent in 2011-13.

Charles Bruner, executive director of the Child & Family Policy Center, also part of IFP, pointed to the overall food insecurity change, from 9.5 percent in 2001-03, to 12.1 percent in 2008-10, to 11.9 percent in the latest period examined.

“Statistically, food insecurity in Iowa has been fairly level for recent years, but these are Iowans — including kids and seniors, not statistics — and the comparison over the decade is disturbing,” Bruner said. “This makes it more important to assure that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is maintained, that eligibility standards are not weakened, and that access is assured to all who need the help.”

For both food insecurity and very low food security, USDA reported the small Iowa improvements from 2008-10 to 2011-13 to be statistically insignificant. According to the USDA, taking into account margins of error for the state and U.S. estimates, eight states had statistically significant higher levels of food insecurity than the national average of 14.6 percent in 2011-13.

Iowa was among 14 states with a statistically significant lower level of food insecurity than the national average. In addition, the Iowa level of very low food security was statistically lower than the national average, as was the case in 12 other states.

 The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint public policy analysis initiative of two Iowa-based, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations — the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center (CFPC) in Des Moines. For IFP reports, go to http://www.iowafiscal.org. For information about how to make tax-deductible contributions to IPP or CFPC, visit their websites: http://www.iowapolicyproject.org and http://www.cfpciowa.org, respectively.

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* Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Christian Gregory and Anita Singh, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2013,” U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

IFP News: Food Insecurity Trends Rising in Iowa

Posted September 4th, 2013 to Economic Security, Food Assistance, IFP in the News

As Farm Bill Idles, Food Needs Challenge 13 Percent of Iowa Households

PDF of this release (2 pages)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Sept. 4, 2013) — While Congress fails to resolve a stalemate on food assistance and the Farm Bill, long-term trends show hunger rising in Iowa.

food insecurity definitionAn annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on family food insecurity found a larger share of Iowa households had trouble putting food on the table, on average, in 2010-12 than a decade earlier.

Iowa was one of 39 states where the share of households with food insecurity rose from 2000-02 to the most recent three-year period, 2010-12. In Iowa, the share rose from 9.1 percent to 12.6 percent.

Furthermore, Iowa households in more severe conditions — “very low food security” — also increased from 2000-02 to 2010-12, from 2.8 percent to 4.8 percent.

The same report, however, found that Iowa did not show a statistically higher proportion of families having food insecurity issues, on average, in 2010-12 than in 2007-09.

“While the challenge to put adequate food on the table throughout the year remains less a problem in Iowa than the national average, it has become a greater challenge within our state than it used to be,” said Mike Owen, executive director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project, part of the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.

“This is a glimpse of the real-life consequences for Iowa families if SNAP opponents get their way in a new Farm Bill. In short, clearly we are still in recovery from the 2007 recession.

“When the number of Iowans in dire situations already is on the rise despite improvements in SNAP through the years, lawmakers need to be aware of the consequences.”

The report found an estimated 14.5 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2012, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

The national change from 14.9 percent in 2011 is not considered statistically significant, and the prevalence of very low food security was unchanged at 5.7 percent, the report noted. USDA uses one-year Census data for national comparisons to previous years, but for state-level comparisons, the data are presented in three-year averages for greater reliability.

For Iowa and many states, however, the situation was different.

According to the latest report:

—  Food insecurity in Iowa rose from 9.1 percent in 2000-02 to 11.5 percent in 2007-09, and 12.6 percent in 2010-12. The change from 2007-09 to 2010-12 was not considered statistically significant, while the longer-term increase of 3.5 percentage points was considered a statistically significant change.[i]

—  Very low food security in Iowa rose from 2.8 percent in 2000-02 to 5 percent in 2007-09, then dipped to 4.8 percent in 2010-12. The small decline from 2007-09 was not considered statistically significant, while the longer-term increase was considered statistically significant.

—  The 2010-12 Iowa averages are significantly below the U.S. averages (14.7 percent for food insecurity, 5.6 percent for very low food security).

The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint public policy analysis and research initiative of two nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations based in Iowa, the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines.


[i] Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Mark Nord and Anita Singh, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2012,” Economic Research Report No. 155, September 2013. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err155.aspx – .UidxtbwpfTw. Also see Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Statement by Stacy Dean, Vice President, Food Assistance Policy, On the New USDA Report on ‘Food Insecurity.’” September 4, 2013. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4007

lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.