Our Blog

Food Hardship, Do you have enough?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently released their analysis of survey data collected in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. ¬†In the breakdown of state data, the survey reveals that the highest rates of “food hardship” happen to be in the Southern parts of our country. When it comes to New Jersey’s congressional districts, the 10th district comes in at number 9 out of 436 districts. This was the highest by far compared to all other New Jersey congressional districts. The 10th district consists of towns in Essex, Hudson and Union county. Mostly, the 10th District is made up of Essex county towns such as Orange, West Orange, East Orange, South Orange, parts of Newark and parts of Montclair. The representative for NJ‚Äôs 10th Congressional District is Donald Payne.

With the New Jersey Elder Economic Security Index, we found that food was 11% of an elder’s budget. What that breaks down to is a monthly average of $234 spent of food for a single elder and $430 for a couple. Housing and healthcare are the highest costs for those 65 and over in NJ. However, programs like SNAP (Food Stamps) and Farmers Market Coupons, can help to save seniors a little money in one area (food costs) so that they aren’t deciding between paying their rent or mortgage versus eating. The FRAC study really highlights what we already now, many people in New Jersey (and throughout the country) don’t have a sufficient income to cover the necessities.

If you or someone you know need assistance, please contact your County Office on Aging, you can find a list at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html  or call the Food Stamp Hotline at 1-800-687-9512 or on the web at  http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/programs/foodstamps/ .

To view the entire FRAC report visit: http://www.frac.org/pdf/food_hardship_report_2010.pdf but here are some more national highlights and figures from the report:

The survey asked more than 530,000 people if in the past 12 months they were unable to buy enough food for themselves or their families. FRAC’s analysis provides a percentage of “food hardship” for the nation, states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) and congressional districts. The data is from 2008 and 2009. Nationally, the survey shows that many people began having difficulty purchasing food for themselves and their families in mid-2008. The number of respondents that stated they did not have enough food jumped from 16.3% in the first quarter of 2008 to 19.5% in the last quarter of 2008. This coincides with the rise of the unemployment rate nationally, which was 6.9% in November of 2008. At that time food prices were also on the rise. By the fourth quarter of 2009 the rate of “food hardship” dropped to 18.5%, the report suggests this was due to falling food prices and by an increase in support programs such as SNAP (food stamps) which received a boost to match the increased enrollment as well as an additional boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Despite the drop, the reports writers caution the reader that this is not the best news; it still means that 1 out of 5 Americans does not have enough food.

When it came to ranking the 436 congressional districts in the US, a rank¬† of #1 means the highest food hardship rate, but again the report warns us that a ranking of 300th or 400th is still not good news, because the data really shows that food hardship is an overwhelming problem in our great nation. The writers go a step further to challenge congress to act on this national problem, stating it is a problem that is “demanding a solution”.