Alabama has the fourth highest food hardship rate – the inability of a household to afford enough food – in America according to a report released by the Food Research & Action Center last month. The data suggests that the state’s hardship rate currently sits at 19.7 percent while the national average is 15.7 percent. Research provided by Feeding America – the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization – in conjunction with USDA findings echoed these statistics in 2016, citing Jefferson County as a having a 19 percent food insecurity rate.
Information distributed by the USDA is often published alongside poverty numbers, and though food insecurity rates and low income often coincide, this is not always the case. In fact, it is estimated that well over half of those afflicted with hunger sit above the federal poverty line according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2018 report.
If one considers that the FRAC and Feeding America studies and ensuing poverty estimates are focused on household figures, and do not include the homeless community, the devastating impact hunger can have on this population becomes all the more clear.
Melvin, a recent Shepura Men’s Center client, is proof of how insufficient nutrition can take a toll on the individual. He entered the program at 6 feet, 2 inches tall and just 122 pounds. After three months of regular meals he is a substantially-healthier 155.
“There are countless men and women in our city that currently need help,” Mission executive director Tony Cooper said. “We also know that cold weather will soon be upon us, and with that will come an increased need to feed and shelter the hungry and homeless.”
The Feeding America study estimates the average meal cost in food-secure homes of Jefferson County to be $3.06. Thanks to the generosity of its donors, the Mission is able to provide meals to clients at a cost of just $1.95.