INDIANAPOLIS – The number of people who are food insecure – who have limited access to healthy food year round – dropped nationally but Indiana’s number is growing.
The annual food insecurity report from the USDA compares census data and survey information from 2010-2015 and finds food insecurity dropped a percentage point – from 14.7 to 13.7 percent.
In the same period, the number of Hoosiers with low access to healthy food grew from 13.5 to 14.8 percent, that’s nearly a million people.
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana’s Robert Wilson said, Hoosiers living right above the poverty line are the MOST food insecure.
"We know for instance that in our service area, in 21 counties in central and southeast Indiana, a third of the food insecurity families have household incomes too high to qualify for any of those federal programs," Wilson said.
Wilson said Indiana’s unemployment rate is half of what it was during the Great Recession, but many jobs do not pay a living wage.
Wilson said Gleaners helps close this gap for many.
"One out of every eight residents in central and southeast Indiana seek assistance through that network of agencies we partner with," Wilson said.
One exception to this trend – the subcategory of Hoosiers reporting very low food security dropped slightly – 6.3 to 6.1 percent.
The USDA report that food security is dropping nationally credits federal nutrition programs, like free and reduced meals and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.