As with many American holidays, Thanksgiving is typically celebrated by gathering family or friends and sharing in a meal. However, for some families this is a challenge.
While inflation hit 7.7% year over year in October, the United States Department of Agriculture stated annual food prices rose as much as 11% and the price of groceries increased by 12.4% in 2022.
The rise in the cost of living and the end of pandemic-era government benefits has put the squeeze on low-income families and contributed to the surge in food insecurity.
The impact of rising costs has also hit the nation’s network of food banks with fewer commercial donations, financial contributions and federal food assistance.
Where does food insecurity exist?
Using publicly available data, you can identify people living in food deserts, people who have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and gauge utilization of government assistance programs to meet daily needs.
However, food insecurity isn’t always obvious.
The topic – Households in poverty not receiving SNAP (which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or sometimes referred to as food stamps) – is part of the American Community Survey. You can use it to help identify where there may be a lack of social programs or where government assistance policies impact the ability of families in need to access food.
Using data to focus your questions
Use this data as a starting point to evaluate opportunities to connect individuals to food resources and examine, for example, the application and redetermination processes individuals must complete to gain access to SNAP and other benefits.
For instance, low-income communities are typically the focus of outreach and government support whereas wealthier communities do not always have the same institutional structures. When you see a community that has income above the United States median, it would be important to evaluate where individuals can find and access food resources beyond the food pantry as they may be limited in hours and resources.
Rural communities, on the other hand, may face distribution challenges, limited individual transportation options, and convenient points of access.
From a policy perspective, the Biden-Harris Administration has set a goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030. It will take efforts from all levels of government in partnership with communities to address the challenges in existing food assistance programs and underlying social determinants of health to make sure no family goes hungry.
Data updates coming soon
The 2017-2021 American Community Survey 5-year estimates are scheduled to be released on December 8, 2022. These data will be available for all geographic areas and Metopio will work quickly to provide you updates to these topics so you can understand the populations and places you care about.