America's 13 Hungriest States, from Kentucky to Mississippi

The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to find the hungriest states in America.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Shopping season is in full swing, but it’s also giving season, the time when many Americans follow the spirit of the holidays and make their yearly charitable contributions. With giving season in mind, The Daily Beast looks into one of the most persistent problems many low-income families face: hunger.

 

To find America’s Hungriest States, we started with the percentage of households suffering from low or very low food security, based on 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food insecurity is based on survey data and measures whether a household has “access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members,” according to the USDA. We also looked at census data for households in poverty that do not receive food stamps, and USDA data on the percentage of the population that is low income and in a “food desert.” There is no single definition of a food desert, but it is generally regarded as an area where people do not have access to a full range of nutritious, healthy foods. These three categories accounted for 90 percent of the ranking. For the final 10 percent we used 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the proportion of adults who eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables each day, as a measure of the overall nutrition of each state’s residents. For readers in a giving mood, we’ve provided the website of a local charity in each state that participates in the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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13. Kentucky

Food insecure households: 16.4 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 9.6 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 10.4 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 10.8 percent


Local charity: Dare to Care Food Bank

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

12. Oklahoma

Food insecure households: 14.7 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 9.7 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 12.3 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 9.3 percent

Local charity: Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

11. South Carolina

Food insecure households: 14.8 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 10.2 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 11.9 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 9.3 percent

Local charity: Lowcountry Food Bank

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

 10. North Carolina

Food insecure households: 17.1 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 9.8 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 10.1 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 10.8 percent

Local charity: Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

9. Georgia

Food insecure households: 17.4 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 10.3 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 9.9 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 13.3 percent
 
Local charity: Union Mission

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8. Arizona

Food insecure households: 15.8 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 9.9 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 16.1 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 16. 1 percent
 
Local charity: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

7. South Dakota

Food insecure households: 12.7 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 8.3 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 22.1 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 10.1 percent
 
Local charity: Dakota Rural Action

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6. Texas

Food insecure households: 18.5 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 10.4 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 13.7 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 14.3 percent
 
Local charity: South Plains Food Bank

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5. Arkansas

Food insecure households: 19.2 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 11.2 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 10 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 11.2 percent
 
Local charity: Vestal Urban Farming Project

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

4. Louisiana

Food insecure households: 14.1 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 11.3 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 19.8 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 11.5 percent
 
Local charity: The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

3. Alabama

Food insecure households: 18.2 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 10.7 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 16.6 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 9.8 percent
 
Local charity: Jones Valley Teaching Farm

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2. New Mexico

Food insecure households: 16.5 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 12.3 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 17.8 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 12.5 percent
 
Local charity: American Friends Service Committee

Lake County Museum / Getty Images

1. Mississippi

Food insecure households: 19.2 percent
Households in poverty w/o food stamps: 13.1 percent
Low-income population in food desert: 12.3 percent
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption: 8.8 percent
 
Local charity: Mississippi Food Network