Food insecurity is on the rise in Virginia
Food insecurity is on the rise in Virginia, according to the latest federal data.
Why it matters: The share of our neighbors who can't reliably afford food has ticked up due to historic inflation rates and the disappearance of pandemic-era benefits.
What's happening: Around 9.3% of Virginia households were food insecure on average between 2020-2022, Axios' Emily Peck and Kavya Beheraj report based on new government data.
- That translates into more than 300,000 Virginia households and is up from 7.8% over the previous period.
- Yes, but: Virginia is faring better than the national average, where 11.2% of all households don't reliably have enough to eat.
Worth noting: Food insecurity means that at times during the year, a given household couldn't get enough food for one or more of its members because they didn't have enough money or resources.
- Those with "very low" food security — which is an additional 4.1% of Virginia households — eat less food or skip meals. In a house with children, the adults might go without so that the kids can eat.
What they're saying: When times are tight, it can often be "easiest" to cut back on food, says Lisa Davis, a senior vice president at Share Our Strength, an anti-poverty nonprofit.
Zoom out: Looking at just 2022, the share of U.S. households that couldn't reliably afford food rose to 12.8% from 10.2% in 2021, per new U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
- The national economy might've looked great in 2022 by some metrics — like the low unemployment rate — but not this one.
The big picture: The disappearance of pandemic-era support programs like the child tax credit, which was used by many families with children to buy food and lowered food insecurity rates in 2021, played a role here.
- But it's complicated. Some SNAP benefits were increased in 2022 — if they hadn't been, these numbers would likely look a lot worse, says Chloe East, an economist and visiting fellow at the Hamilton Project.
- This is an inflation story, too. And not just in food prices, which were up more than 10% in 2022 — energy prices and rents also soared.
Zoom in: Feed More, the umbrella organization food bank that serves all of Central Virginia, says it's seen a 22% increase in need over the past 2 years.
- "This means there are more neighbors who have never had to ask for help, while those neighbors Feed More already helps continue to face difficult challenges," Feed More says.
- If you're looking to give financial support, Feed More will take that, too — and now through Dec. 1 donors are matching all monetary support (up to $250,000).
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