Southwest, Southeast have highest hunger rates, report says

TUCSON -- The Southwest and Southeast had the highest hunger rates in the nation last year, according to a report released by the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit Washington-based group focusing on hunger and undernourishment in the United States.

These regions reported at least 1 out of 5 people suffered from hunger,  the report says.

In Arizona, the number of people who went hungry last year increased slightly as the national hunger rate fell. An estimated 20.9% of Arizonans sometimes went without food last year because their family didn't have the money to buy it.

The state fared slightly worse than it did the previous year, when 20.5% of those surveyed reported food hardship. At the same time, national hunger rates decreased by 0.4%.

Arizona surpassed the national rate of 18.2%, ranking 14th among states,  just below California (20.6%), according to the survey. Mississippi had the highest hunger rate, at 24.6%.

"That continuingly high rate of food hardship in 2012 is evidence of both the lingering effects of the terrible recession … and the failure of Congress to respond robustly with initiatives to boost jobs, wages and public income and nutrition support programs,” the report says. “These economic and political shortfalls continue to take a harsh toll on the nation’s food security.”

A telephone survey last year randomly sampled more than 352,000 adults in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error for the national survey was less than or equal to 1 percentage point.

cindy.carcamo@latimes.com

@thecindycarcamo

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