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.