According to a survey released last month by the Food Research and Action Center, Florida is among the top ten states with the highest rates of “food hardship,” or the lack of money to buy food.
Those conducting the survey asked respondents: “Have there been times in the last twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
At least 21.6 percent of Florida respondents answered “yes.” The state, as a whole, ranks eight in the nation for rates of food hardship.
The survey found that 17 states “had at least one in five respondents (20 percent or more) answer that they did not have enough money to buy food at some point in the last 12 months.”
What this report shows is that the need for efforts to reduce hunger are essential to every state, every Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), every congressional district. Americans don’t always recognize how pervasive hunger is, or that it is a problem where they live. In our communities it is often hidden by families that don’t want to share their economic struggles. Sometimes it hides behind doors of nice houses with mortgages in default or the heat turned off. And often it goes unseen by those not looking for it. In a poll conducted in 2011 for Tyson Foods and FRAC, two-thirds of Americans rated hunger as a worse problem at the national level than at the community level. But what the Gallup data show is that Americans in every community are hungry.
Fortunately, polls demonstrate that Americans in every community want the federal government to attack hunger aggressively, not slash anti-hunger efforts. In a poll conducted for FRAC in January 2012, seven in 10 (69 percent) voters said the federal government should have a major role to ensure that low-income families and children have the food and nutrition they need. Only 12 percent of voters, roughly one in eight, thought the federal government is spending too much money on hunger, while 78 percent of voters say the federal government should be spending more money on solving hunger or should continue to spend the same amount. When voters are told that Congress is considering cutting billions of dollars to reduce government spending, by 77 percent to 15 percent they say cutting food assistance programs like the food stamp program is the wrong way to reduce government spending. And these attitudes cross party lines.
The Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area has a food hardship rate of 22.6 percent– ranking it sixth in the nation among other metropolitan areas.