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Front page news around the country today that the percentage of households with low “food security” has risen from 11.1% in 2007 to 14.6% in 2008. Nearly 50 million people, including one in four children, struggled in ’08 to get enough to eat. In about 6% of households “food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.” To see the Washington Post story, go here.  To see the U.S. Department of Agriculture study where these figures come from, go here

The percentage of households defined as “food insecure” varied by state. Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia and New Mexico had the highest percentage of families having a hard time filling their plates. The most food secure states were North Dakota, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, Hawaii, Wyoming, Delaware and Maryland.

In a briefing for reporters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “These numbers are a wake-up call . . . for us to get very serious about food security and hunger, about nutrition and food safety in this country.” Vilsack attributed the growth in food insecurity to rising unemployment.

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