The Food Research and Action Center analyzes survey data collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project to calculate food hardship rates for states, including by Congressional District and the 100 largest MSA’s. The Nevada food hardship rate indicates the extent to which Nevadans are struggling with hunger, reporting they didn’t have the money in the past 12 months to buy the food the food they or their family needed. The Las Vegas MSA 2014-15 food hardship rate dropped from 20.3 to 19.3; and the MSA ranking dropped from 25 to 22.
The USDA developed a “scaling tool” to define and track food security and hunger among households, providing the following definitions:
- Food security — Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life including at a minimum: (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods; and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).
- Food insecurity — Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.
Children from food-insecure homes are more likely to have poorer mental and overall health, are sick and hospitalized more often, and miss more days of school. Older adults with inadequate diets are vulnerable to disease and require longer recovery from disease. This all adds up to increased costs for Nevadans. Assisting eligible families to receive federal earned income and child tax credits due to them is a first step to food security. In-school nutrition education is critical to our children’s futures. While training and employment programs, safe and affordable childcare, and alternative transportation options can help facilitate families transitioning to economic independence.