Saying, "It's worse than we thought," representatives from the Idaho Foodbank unveiled startling statistics today, indicating nearly 16 percent of Idahoans are "food insecure" and nearly one in five persons don't know where their next meal will come from in five counties: Adams, Benewah, Boundary, Shoshone and Valley.
"Food insecurity will change how hunger is evaluated," said Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank. "Food insecurity examines if there is enough access to get enough food to maintain good health."
The landmark study is part of a national examination of hunger by the Feeding America organization. Previously, food insecurity data was only available at the state level. Today's study further analyzes each county's food-insecure population.
The 2010 results in Idaho were not promising, with 15.8 percent of the population ranked as food insecure, representing a $105.8 million food needs gap between the haves and the have-nots.
"We hope that this study will change how policy makers understand and address hunger in our state," Vauk told Citydesk. Vauk said food insecurity was different from poverty in that poverty indicates minimum income levels while food insecurity measures access to nutritious, safe foods necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
The study said the average cost of a nutritious meal in Idaho was $2.68 (higher than the national average of $2.54). The cost per meal was highest in Valley County at $4.18.
National statistics are available at feedingamerica.org