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  • Axios NW Arkansas

    Report: Arkansas has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country

    By Alex FitzpatrickAlex GoldenAlice Feng,


    Data: Feeding America; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

    Nearly one-fifth of Arkansans were food insecure in 2022, in line with a national trend of more people struggling to afford food, according to the latest data from Feeding America.

    Threat level: Arkansas had the nation's second-highest rate of food insecurity in 2022 of 18.6%, up from 15.5% in 2021.

    Zoom in: Even Benton County's statewide low of 14% is still above the national average of 13.5%. In Washington County, 16.6% of people were food insecure.

    • Searcy County in north-central Arkansas had the state's highest rate at 24.5%.

    The big picture: The Midwest saw the biggest increases in the examined time period; however, food insecurity remains an urgent issue in the South, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng write .

    • "Eight out of 10 high food insecurity counties are in the South," the report reads, adding that the South "contains 45% of all counties but is home to an estimated 84% of counties with food insecurity rates in the top 10%."

    How it works: The report uses the USDA's definition of food insecurity: a "lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life due to limited financial resources."

    • But Feeding America looks at a combination of factors — like unemployment, poverty, homeownership, income and disability status — to arrive at what it says is a more accurate estimate than others.
    • Read more about the group's methodology here .

    The bottom line: "The insights from this year's study confirm what we hear from people facing hunger," said Linda Nageotte, Feeding America president and chief operating officer, in a statement.

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