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Study Shows Food Insecurity By County

Feeding America

The latest information from Feeding America shows more than 1 in 10 South Dakotans lacks consistent access to enough healthy food. A recent study shows that, in the past year, more than 12 percent of people in South Dakota didn’t have access to enough food. 

Every county in South Dakota suffers from food insecurity. The numbers prove hunger affects children, and it’s more likely in certain parts of the state.

Research from Feeding America shows more than 105,000 people in South Dakota struggle with food insecurity. That means they don’t have enough food on the table for an adequate, healthy diet.

The study shows people in rural areas are significantly more likely to have challenges getting the right foods and enough of them. The overall rate of food insecurity in South Dakota is more than 12 percent. In some counties, that percentage is higher.

"In this state, we have Ziebach, Dewey, Todd, Buffalo, and Corson counties which all have food insecurity rates above 20 percent," Kerri DeGraff with Feeding South Dakota says. So when you look at our state overall average of 12.4 percent, those counties are significantly higher than those percentages, and they’re closer to the food insecurity across the board that we see for children in our state."

The Feeding America research shows more than 40,000 South Dakota kids don’t get enough good food to support active, healthy lives.

"It shows that across South Dakota about 12.4 percent of our population are currently suffering from food insecurity." Kerri DeGraff, Feeding South Dakota

"That is a staggering part of the conversation as we continue to look at free and reduced lunch numbers rising and how are we making sure that children are getting enough to eat. And when they don’t, what we see are chronic illnesses such as obesity, even, where people are saying, ‘Well, these kids aren’t hungry.’ And we’re saying, ‘Well, no, they’re nutritionally deprived. They’re not getting the foods they need to meet their hunger needs,'" DeGraff says.

DeGraff with Feeding South Dakota says the rate of food insecurity is moving slowly, but it is rising.

"There’s no county in our state that’s immune from the issue of hunger, so no matter where you live hunger is around you and there’s someone you know, even though you might not know this, there’s someone that you know that’s suffering from hunger," DeGraff says.

DeGraff says higher food prices mean it costs more to provide nutritious meals. She says the cost of an average meal in South Dakota is $2.79.

"From last year to this year, it increased by five cents – which might not seem much per meal, but again if you look at that across the board in terms of an entire year of what it would take to feed not only one person but a family, it can have larger impacts," Degraff says.

Because the county offers a county-by-county breakdown, DeGraff says it helps state and local organizations direct food aid to the right areas.

Feeding America has an interactive map that reveals details about food insecurity levels by state and by county. View the map at this link.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).