Birmingham-Hoover bottoms out this list at number 10, at a food hardship percentage of 29.5 percent. A recent survey of Jefferson County reported that there are 80,000 families who are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Alabama's "very low food security" rate of 6.8 percent, meaning about 126,480 households were affected, exceeds the national average. In addition there are 3,000 people each week who sleep on the streets of Birmingham.
Number nine on the list is San Bernardino-Ontario, with 30.4 percent food hardship amongst households. There are 128,000 children in San Bernardino County that live in poverty and face hunger every day. More than 22,000 children are currently homeless. For those who aren’t, 85 percent of students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District receive free or reduced-price lunch and these same children may go hungry during the weekend as only 42 percent of those kids receive breakfast.
Recovery efforts are still in motion and that's a good thing, as an enormous percentage (73.4!) of all visitors using the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans have annual household incomes at or beneath the poverty line. New Orleans has as 30.4 food hardship percentage and ranks on this list at number eight. Find out about how you can help at Habitat for Humanity.
This jarring story makes it easy to understand why Louisville remains a top food hardship city at 31 percent and ranks at #7. Dare to Care Food Bank was founded in 1971, when a stunned Louisville community was horrified with news that right in their own city, on Thanksgiving Day, a 9-year-old boy had died of starvation. Annually, Louisville hosts Hunger Awareness Week to make the voices of its residents a little bit louder in the fight against hunger.
With 31 percent and a number six rank, it’s no wonder one in eight households in Vegas struggle with hunger. Researchers estimate that hunger costs Vegas half a billion dollars in direct and indirect costs of lost productivity and negative health outcomes. Nearly one in five children in Las Vegas experience food insecurity and the effects often cause lifelong problems.
With 32.6 percent of families across Fresno struggling with food hardship, this city places at number five on the list. Water allotments to farming have been cut and a sugar plant closed, creating a staggering unemployment rate of forty percent. Fresno County is home to nearly 800,000 residents. Twenty-two percent of the population of Fresno County lives below the federal poverty line.
Tied with Lakeland-Winterhaven at 33 percent, the tri-named city comes in at number four. Youngstown’s nearly 70,000 residents live more than a half-mile from a grocery store and 18 percent of people do not have access to a vehicle to drive them to stores. City officials and organizers have launched several initiatives aimed at getting fresh food into Youngstown’s neighborhoods. In addition to luring supermarkets, they are working to set up urban gardens and farmers markets.
Lakeland-Winter Haven, not too far from Orlando, measures up at number three with 33 percent. "Folks everywhere are facing higher food costs, medical bills, energy prices, you name it," explained Florida Senator, Bill Nelson. "And many people in Florida are on the verge of losing their homes or have lost them already. That's what's so puzzling about the fight in Congress over budget priorities. Why would anyone want to take even more away from the poor and middle class?"
With 33.9 percent of residents facing food hardship, Orlando-Kissimmee ranks number two. Nearly one out of every three Florida households with children reported not having enough money to buy food. "These new data reaffirm what we're seeing in our communities — that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these economic times," said Debra Susie, executive director for Florida Impact, convener of the Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
With nearly 35 percent of residents facing food hardship, Winston-Salem tops the national list, with more than one in three households facing food insecurity.