Nearly 22% of South Carolina residents in 2011 reported not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some point during the prior 12 months, new report says

COLUMBIA, South Carolina , February 29, 2012 (press release) – 21.9 percent of respondents in South Carolina reported in 2011 not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some points during the prior twelve months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

This unique report provides data on food hardship - the inability to afford enough food - for every region, every state, every Congressional District and 100 of the country's largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). For South Carolina, it found that:

* o In 2011, 21.9 percent in the state said they were unable to afford enough food.
* o For the Columbia, SC MSA, the food hardship rate was 21.2 percent in 2010-2011.
* o All six of the Congressional Districts in South Carolina had 19 percent or more of their residents reporting food hardship in 2010-2011.

"These new data show us just how much people are struggling in our communities, and underline that far too many of them are finding it a challenge to afford enough food for their families," said Sue Berkowitz, Director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. "And these data show us that our nation's safety net must be made stronger, not weaker. We can't afford to leave people behind."

FRAC's food hardship report analyzes data that were collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008.

FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: "Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?" "Rising food prices, continuing high unemployment and underemployment, and flat food stamp benefit allotments all contributed to the high food hardship rate in 2011," said FRAC President Jim Weill. "Particularly challenging was the increase in food inflation, especially for the foods the government uses to construct the Thrifty Food Plan, its cheapest diet. Food stamp beneficiaries lost more than six percent of their food purchasing power because of this increase."

Recent polling data, released last month by FRAC, demonstrate the broad support among Americans for the federal nutrition programs and for a stronger role by government in ending hunger. Seven in 10 voters said the federal government should have a major role to ensure that low-income families and children have the food and nutrition they need. Seventy-seven percent of voters say that cutting food stamp assistance (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) would be the wrong way to reduce government spending.

"Even in difficult times, this nation has the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone. These data show that no community in our state is anywhere close to being hunger-free, and that more must be done to solve this problem," said Sue Berkowitz "It is time for our elected officials to tackle hunger with the zeal that the situation demands."

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