WHAT IS HUNGER?
A household income that can’t keep pace with the cost of living combined with unexpected expenses like a car accident or medical emergency can force families to make impossible choices between food and other basic needs.Many Louisianans are one job loss or medical crisis away from food insecurity - defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food to live an active, healthy life - but some people, including children and seniors, may be at greater risk of hunger - the uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food - than others.
Prior to COVID, a whopping 750,000 Louisianans qualified as food insecure. Yet a merciless pandemic and a brutal hurricane season have left in their wake an even more pronounced food crisis. At the height of the pandemic, the number of food insecure Louisianans totaled 930,000. Roughly 1 in 5 of our fellow Louisianans experiences food insecurity, including a quarter of all children and a quarter of all seniors statewide.
More than 1-in-4 children in Louisiana experience food insecurity
Every child has the right to enough daily, nutritious foods that allow them to learn, play, and grow. We know that children who grow up in food-secure households often experience higher levels of educational attainment, better health and behavioral outcomes, and a higher likelihood of economic independence and overall well-being later in life.
1-in-4 Louisiana seniors faces food insecurity
After a lifetime of hard work, many seniors find themselves facing an impossible choice — to buy groceries or afford medical care. As the baby-boom generation ages and their health costs increase, the number of seniors facing hunger is only expected to grow. Many of Louisiana's seniors are struggling.
COMMUNITIEs of Color
Hunger hits communities of color harder
According to Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, 32% of Black households, 30.6% of Asian households, and 23.9% of Latino households in the state of Louisiana experience food insecurity. Unemployment and poverty disproportionately affect Louisianan communities of color, making combating hunger even harder.
Higher poverty and lower incomes in rural areas can cause greater reliance on services
According to the USDA, 29 of Louisiana's 64 parishes qualify as rural. Rural populations face unique challenges and often face higher rates of hunger because they lack access to healthy food, have limited or unreliable job opportunities, and experience high rates of unemployment and underemployment. For organizations such as food banks that provide critical direct services, rural communities are often difficult - and expensive - to reach.
WOMEN + HUNGER
52% of Louisiana's single women households live below the federal poverty line
Food insecurity has detrimental impacts on the health and well-being of any individual but these adverse effects hit women, especially mothers, extremely hard. In Louisiana and across the United States, women disproportionately experience hunger and poverty at higher rates than men in Louisiana. In fact, mothers often sacrifice their own quality of nutrition to protect their families from hunger. Additionally, mothers who are food insecure while pregnant also face a serious risk of maternal depression, gestational diabetes, iron deficiency, and low birth weight. All of this increases their risk of obesity and other chronic diseases.