Valley Ranked 2nd Most Food Insecure in Nation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area has been ranked the second highest food insecure area in the nation, according to a report released by the Food Research & Action Center. 

The report, “How Hungry is America?,” found 22% of all households in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area struggled to buy enough food for themselves and their families in 2016 to 2017.

Food hardship rate for households with children was at 34.8%, compared to those without children at 16.6%.

The report is based on 337,690 interviews nationwide in metropolitan statistical areas. Bakersfield, California, was ranked No. 1 with a food hardship rate of 23.2%.

Despite an improving economy, 16.2% of households in Ohio reported that they struggled to put food on the table. Ohio ranked 18th in the nation for food hardship (first being the worst) and one in six households reported they had trouble buying food.

The food hardship rate in Ohio is considerably higher in households with children than households without children, 19.5% compared to 14.6%.

“Food hardship affects people in every community in Ohio, although it often goes unseen by those not looking for it,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “Hunger can hide behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default, or the heat turned off, or all of the income going to housing costs, leaving little or no money for food. Sometimes it hides behind the stoic faces of parents who skip meals to protect their children from hunger.”

Nationally, the report found that after several years of decline, the food hardship rate for all households increased from 15.1% in 2016 to 15.7% in 2017. The food hardship rate for households with children is 1.3 times higher than for households without children.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.