Hunger in America 2014 is the sixth and most comprehensive hunger study ever undertaken by Feeding America. The 2014 study reveals a specific snapshot of the numbers and percentages of our neighbors in need of assistance. The actual figures were accumulated in 2012.
The study indicates throughout Alabama there were 895,430 or 18.6% of the population who were food insecure or living in households experiencing food insecurity. Within the MAFB service area that rate moved up fractionally to 18.7% or 274,260. The study also found that state-wide, 289,960 or 25.8% of Alabama’s children were food insecure. That percentage moves down slightly to 23.6% or 80,980 children in the MAFB service area being food insecure.
The United Health Foundation provides an annual national assessment – or a Healthy Outcomes Report Card of America - complete with State Health Rankings – and for the third consecutive year Alabama ranked 49th (almost worst) in Overall Outcomes.
There is a theme to our state’s worst scores: diet-related chronic disease.
45th - Preventable Hospitalizations. An old adage may hold the key to future healthcare sustainability through improved outcomes: “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.”
The food insecurity measures here represent households having difficulty meeting basic food needs found in the Current Population Survey. However, MAFB also serves community agencies, which cater to the needs of the homeless, victims of domestic violence, and child welfare organizations among others not counted as a traditional household.
As the largest food bank in Alabama, our service area crisscrosses the entire state, and includes 11 of 12 rural counties historically referred to as the "Black Belt", which is a region is chronically among the most poverty stricken in the nation; including Wilcox County, the poorest in the nation! However, with an estimated 385,000 individuals living near or below the Federal Poverty Line, our efforts impact our neighbors in need regardless of race, creed, or age. Within our service area, 24.31% of the adult and 34.67% of the child populations live in poverty. Our senior poverty rate is a staggering 22.09%, compared to the national average of 9.86%.
While it may seem counterintuitive; food insecurity, poverty, obesity, diabetes and even the advent of youth violence have frequently been identified as being closely interrelated. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) cites several studies in their findings: Why Low-Income and Food Insecure People are Vulnerable to Overweight and Obesity, “Households with limited resources to buy enough food often try to stretch their food budgets by purchasing cheap, energy-dense foods that are filling – that is, they try to maximize their calories per dollar in order to stave off hunger,”(Basiotis & Lino, 2002; DiSantis et al., 2013; Drewnowski & Specter, 2004; Drewnowski, 2009).
Sadly, we all too often see firsthand when low-income families do indeed attempt to stretch their food budgets by purchasing energy-dense "fast foods" that, while being filling and wrongly perceived as cheaper, are bereft of nutritional value and have purposefully been engineered with highly addictive combinations and increased levels of sugar, salt and fat.
Alabama Overall and Child Food Insecurity
Montgomery Area Food Bank Overall and Child Food Insecurity
Food Insecurity, Poverty Leading to Unhealthy Outcomes
Hunger, Fast Food Engineering:
These addictive properties have been verified and announced by the Scripps Research Institute – one of the world’s largest non-profit bio-medical research organizations, in 2010.
The study demonstrated clearly that lab subjects’ development of obesity coincides with a progressively deteriorating chemical balance in brain circuitries dealing with pleasure. As these centers became less responsive, subjects quickly developed compulsive overeating habits, consuming larger quantities of high-calorie, high-fat food until they became obese. The very same changes occur in the brains of subjects that over consume cocaine or heroin, and are thought to play an important role in the development of compulsive drug use!
According to Scripps Research Associate Professor Paul J. Kenny, "The study confirms the 'addictive' properties of junk food. It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.”
Montgomery Area Food Bank
"Feeding Hope Across Alabama"
521 Trade Center Street | Montgomery AL 36108 | 334-263-3784
One out of five of us deal with Food Insecurity, which means four out of five of us could help!
Michael Moss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 2006 and 1999. He is also the recipient of a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to The New York Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism.
Salt | Sugar | Fat - How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Fifty-eight percent of households in America have at least one member with high blood pressure and 33 percent have at least one member with diabetes.
The cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease begins when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food. The combination of stress and poor nutrition can make disease management even more challenging.
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Further, the time and money needed to respond to these worsening health crises drains the household budget, leaving little money for essential nutrition and medical care. This causes the cycle to continue.
Many families experiencing food insecurity often have several, if not all, compounding factors which makes maintaining good health extremely difficult.