(UNDATED) - A new study reveals that one in four Indiana children younger than 18 are at risk of hunger, according to Julio Alonso Hoosier Hills Food Bank Executive Director.
In the six-county area served by the food bank, Orange and Lawrence counties have the highest percentage of food insecure children, with 29.9 percent and 29.8 percent respectively.
They are followed by Owen (25.3 percent), Brown (25.0 percent), Martin (24.3 percent), and Monroe (21.7 percent) counties.
Two area counties served by different food banks are Greene at 27.4 percent and Morgan at 22.7 percent.
Food insecurity - defines as not always having access to nutritious and safe food for all members of a household - is 16.6 percent for all residents, but 25.1 percent for children.
One indicator used in the report is unemployment rates. The study found that areas with higher unemployment rates have higher food insecurity rates, which would help explain why Lawrence County has a higher rate and Monroe County is somewhat lower, said Alonso.
This data helps draw attention to the hunger problem and helps develop strategies to target the problem.
Alonso hopes the economy will improve and lower the rates, but until then supporting food banks, soup kitchens and youth programs will help.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry said the problem of hunger is much closer to home than we might think and cannot be ignored.
The study found that in Indiana, 16 percent of the population is food insecure, and 62 percent of food insecure children are eligible for federal nutrition programs such as the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, and free or reduced-price school meals. An executive summary of the report is at http://feedingamerica.org/mapthegap/childsummary
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