A new nationwide study of child hunger shows Idaho making two contradictory top-10 lists - one for the most improvement in rates of child hunger, and the other for being among the 10 worst for hungry kids under age 5. “We actually have improved from where we were - we were so bad,” said Kathy Gardner, director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force. State Health and Welfare officials are “a little puzzled” by the conflicting results, said spokesman Tom Shanahan. “We don’t have a good answer for it. … We may have been a little behind the curve, and we’re headed in the right direction now.”
The study, “Feeding America: Child Food Insecurity in the United States,” looked at hunger rates for children by state. It compared data from 2005 through 2007 to earlier data, from 2003 to 2005. It also, for the first time, broke out data for children under age 5. Gardner said the improvements Idaho showed in the study fit in with several bright spots for the fight against hunger in the Gem State. Idaho’s food stamp program, which she called “the front-line program for childhood hunger and family hunger,” is rapidly expanding, and on Monday, dropped its asset test for one year - potentially making an entire new population of laid-off Idahoans eligible for help. “Everyone once in a while we do something that’s very progressive,” she said. You can read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.