A positive report reveals that fewer U.S. families say they are struggling to buy food.
That fact comes from the Food Research Action Center analysis of a Gallup survey on health and well-being. For the last seven years the Gallup organization has asked U.S. households: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
Nationally, in the first half of this year, 15.8 percent of survey respondents answered “yes.” That’s a drop from 17.1 percent in 2014.
For states, Kansas went down to 12.3 percent in the first half of 2015 from 14.9 percent in 2014. Missouri, however, rose to 17.3 percent, a half percentage point higher than in the previous year.
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The Food Research and Action Center noted that nationally the food hardship rates this year reached the lowest levels since Gallup began collecting data in 2008 during the worst of the Great Recession. The food hardship rate peaked at 20 percent in that period.
An increasing number of people able to afford food may indeed indicate that the economy, despite gyrations in the stock market, is improving as unemployment has declined and wages are inching higher at large employers such as Wal-Mart and cities around the country.
Still, some safety net programs are at risk. Kansas and Missouri have imposed stricter welfare requirements and reduced the time during which people can receive assistance.
That could affect some families’ ability to afford food in the near future, another setback that would bear watching.