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Counties with the highest rate of food insecure children

  • Counties with the highest rate of food insecure children

    The federal poverty level (FPL) for a family of four in the contiguous United States in 2019 is a combined income of $25,750, according to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Each year, those numbers— which indicate the minimum income a family is determined to need in order to pay for necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and basic transportation—are examined to help determine who is eligible for certain federal benefits or programs.

    Based on the FPL, it is possible to estimate how many people in the United States experience food insecurity, and to break those numbers down into counties and congressional districts. Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap does just that; utilizing public data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics as they relate to food insecurity. Those points may include unemployment, poverty, and a number of other household characteristics. The organization next estimates average meal costs along with how much need there is among those who are considered food insecure (local numbers are gleaned from Nielsen and national survey data from the Census Bureau).

    Food insecurity hits children particularly hard. The USDA puts estimates of children in the U.S. living in food-insecure households at more than 12 million as of 2017—or one in every six children. Not having consistent access to enough food can affect cognitive abilities, overall health, moods, and attention spans—not to mention the psychological effects of living with a sense of scarcity.

    To determine the 50 U.S. counties with the highest rates of food insecure children, Stacker turned to Feeding America's 2019 data, ranked here by child food insecurity rate. Ties were broken by the total child population. These numbers can provide communities with the hard data required to create more robust strategies for facing such a complex issue head-on.

    Keep reading to find out which U.S. county has almost 40% of its children living with food insecurity—and where in the country children are living in households with incomes below 185% of the FPL.

  • #50. Ziebach County, South Dakota

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.7%
    --- Total child population: 956
    --- Number of food insecure children: 280
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 84%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 16%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 21.6%

    [Pictured: Eagle Butte, South Dakota a city in Ziebach County]

  • #49. Wheeler County, Georgia

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.7%
    --- Total child population: 1,347
    --- Number of food insecure children: 400
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 96%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 4%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 22.4%

  • #48. Jackson County, Arkansas

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.7%
    --- Total child population: 3,526
    --- Number of food insecure children: 1,050
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 80%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 20%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 20.4%

  • #47. Coahoma County, Mississippi

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.7%
    --- Total child population: 6,755
    --- Number of food insecure children: 2,010
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 71%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 29%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 29.9%

    [Pictured: Clarksdale Mississippi, a city in Coahoma County ]

  • #46. Hudspeth County, Texas

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.8%
    --- Total child population: 904
    --- Number of food insecure children: 270
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 73%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 27%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 13.4%

    [Pictured: Sierra Blanca which is a city in Hudspeth County]

  • #45. Sumter County, Georgia

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.8%
    --- Total child population: 7,212
    --- Number of food insecure children: 2,150
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 74%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 26%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 23.5%

    [Pictured: Leslie, GA is in a city in Sumter County]

  • #44. Dallas County, Alabama

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.8%
    --- Total child population: 10,078
    --- Number of food insecure children: 3,000
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 76%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 24%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 27.2%

    [Pictured: Selma, AL is in Dallas County]

  • #43. Navajo County, Arizona

    - Child food insecurity rate: 29.9%
    --- Total child population: 29,813
    --- Number of food insecure children: 8,910
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 83%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 17%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 20.9%

  • #42. Alexander County, Illinois

    - Child food insecurity rate: 30.1%
    --- Total child population: 1,646
    --- Number of food insecure children: 490
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 84%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 16%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 22.2%

    [Pictured: an aerial view of of Cairo, IL which is the county seat of Alexander County]

  • #41. Big Horn County, Montana

    - Child food insecurity rate: 30.1%
    --- Total child population: 4,461
    --- Number of food insecure children: 1,340
    - Percentage of children in households with income below 185% FPL: 77%
    - Percentage of children in households with income above 185% FPL: 23%
    - Overall food insecurity rate: 20.2%

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