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Food Insecurity Rates High Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Pandemic-related food insecurity follows known regional patterns

THURSDAY, April 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Food insecurity in the United States is high as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released April 23 by the University of Arkansas Community and Family Institute.

Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and colleagues used a modified 10-question U.S. Department of Agriculture Adult Food Security Survey Module, which inquired about food-related experiences in the past three months. Eleven states did not meet the minimum number of respondents for reporting.

Based on 10,368 national responses collected during the last week of March, the researchers found that 19 states had average food insecurity percentages that were lower than the national average (38.3 percent), while 20 states had higher-than-average food insecurity percentages. The highest averages of food insecurity were seen in Alabama (47.7 percent), Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, while the lowest averages were seen in Iowa (24.5 percent), Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Generally, the Southern and Midsouthern regions had the highest food insecurity averages, while the Midwestern and Northeastern states reported less food insecurity.

“We need to recognize that with a supply chain that is fractured, service providers unable to fill the gap, and a whole new group of people who are unemployed, it is no wonder that food insecurity would be elevated,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “We already had high food insecurity in this country and now we are putting another layer of need on top of it.”

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