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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Hunger study shows 250,000 Idahoans at risk

According to a new study, 15.6 percent of Idahoans didn’t know where they’d get their next meal on a given day in 2013, and 21.1 percent of children. That “food insecurity” rating was down 0.2 percent from the previous year’s figures for the state, and the number for children was down 0.5 percent, as measured by Feeding America, a consortium of 200 food banks across the country that has been conducting such research for the past five years. Idaho’s rates are very slightly below the national average, which is 15.8 percent overall and 21.4 percent for children.

But Mike Sharp, spokesman for the Idaho Food Bank, said his organization is concerned that food insecurity in Idaho isn’t falling faster with the state’s recovering economy. “The demand hasn’t gone down,” he said. “We’ve distributed 16.1 million pounds of food just last year. … We help about 131,000 people any given month.” But the study estimates 250,830 Idahoans are food-insecure. “It’s still about double what we can reach, and that’s the worrisome number,” he said.

Also, the figures varied by counties, with some coming out worse in the new figures than in the previous year. Among them: Shoshone County’s food insecurity rate jumped from 18.5 percent in 2012 to 19.5 percent in 2013, with the rate for kids going from 25.1 percent to 26 percent. Kootenai County’s rate increased from 15.7 percent to 16 percent in 2013. “So they’re estimating about 22,590 people food-insecure in Kootenai County, up a full thousand from last year,” Sharp said.

Ada County also saw an increase in food insecurity, from 14.4 percent in 2012 to 14.8 percent in 2013. You can see the full study here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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