AARP report on hunger in Mississippi is disturbing

Published 12:25 am Sunday, September 18, 2011

The AARP’s findings in a recently published report that 13.79 percent of Mississippians ages 50-59 face “food insecurity” is disturbing but not surprising given the demographic liabilities (poverty, under-education, unemployment and factors compounded by systemic racial factors) shaping our state.

AARP is among the largest and best organized special advocacy organizations in the world, and its effectiveness rises in part from knowing its constituency.

Conditions leading to food insecurity range from abject poverty, emotional distress, mental illness, and infirmity to outright neglect.

The 160-plus-page scholarly, analytical report from which AARP drew its conclusions was produced by researchers at the University of Kentucky and pinpointed information applicable to rural regions.

Nationwide, 14.2 percent of rural households are food insecure, an estimated 2.8 million households. Compared to all regions, the South continues to have the highest poverty rate among people in families with related children under 18 years.

In fact, most food insecure counties are more likely to be located in rural areas than in metropolitan areas.

The more important gap, the one hanging around Mississippi’s neck, is that while there is a distinct age gap in rates of food insecurity, it is about half the size of the gap across race and ethnicity.

Inexplicably, President Barack Obama, the supposed champion of fairly allocating resources, for the first time has not proposed an increase for nutrition programs. Obama needs to feel some heat from Mississippi and its congressional delegation — House and Senate.

The appropriate rallying cry might be, “Yes, we can — feed hungry Mississippians.”

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