Report: 106K South Dakotans Go Hungry
A new study shows many children in South Dakota are vulnerable when it comes to poverty and hunger. The latest information from Feeding America shows some areas have up to four out of 10 kids who don’t know where they’ll get their next meal. The annual report is a detailed look at food insecurity in the state.
The latest data on hunger issues in South Dakota shows 12.4 percent of people in the state are food insecure. That number is unchanged from last year, but Kerri DeGraff with Feeding South Dakota says more South Dakotans are hungry.
"As our population increases, so do the number of food insecure individuals. So while the percentage stayed the same, of course, the overall number of food insecure individuals did increase," DeGraff says.
The Feeding America survey shows 105,880 people in South Dakota are food insecure. That means they have limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy lifestyle.
DeGraff says Feeding South Dakota distributes about 10.5 million meals each year. She says the study shows people in the state still miss about 18 million meals.
"This data provides us with the current picture of individuals that are food insecure even with all the supports that are currently in place, even with local feeding pantries, even with organizations like Feeding South Dakota," DeGraff says. "This is the current picture of hunger, because it takes into account what resources are available."
Information from the study shows more than 39,000 South Dakota kids are food insecure, even after free and reduced lunches and local efforts to provide after school snacks and food over the weekend.
DeGraff says some rural counties struggle with hunger, because people live far from places like grocery stores where they can find nutritious food. She says poverty is another major factor. DeGraff points to one area with a high proportion of hungry people – Oglala Lakota County.
"They’re currently seeing their child food insecurity rate at right on about 40 percent, so 40 percent of the children in that county are food insecure, which is just staggering," DeGraff says. "And when we look across the country, the highest county for child food insecurity is at 42 percent, so we are right there in terms of having some of the highest child food insecurity rates in our country."