New hunger numbers

Posted on 09. May, 2012 by

Last summer we started a community project/series of stories called “Feeding Wise” which put a spotlight on the hunger problem in Wise County. The project was spurred by some information I received last year on “Map the Meal Gap,” a project by Feeding America.

The study included hunger numbers for each state in the country. We outlined some of Wise County numbers in columns and stories as part of last year’s project, which can be found at

I recently received updated numbers. And although the numbers haven’t changed much, it appears that the numbers are slightly better.

Keep in mind that  number are from two years previous. In other words, last year’s numbers were based on the population in 2009, and this year’s are based on 2010. So in 2009, 16.2 percent of the population was food insecure compared to 15.9 percent in 2010. The number of food insecure people in Wise County dropped from 9,310 to 9,210. This went against the state trend, which saw an increase from 4,245,970 in 2009 to 4,672,780 in 2010.

Of Wise County’s food insecure population, 59 percent qualified for government assistance such as SNAP or free or reduced school lunches in 2010 compared to 55 percent in 2009.

No matter how you look at the numbers, it is clear that hunger is still a major issue both in Wise County and the state as a whole.

That’s why we want to highlight the local agencies helping provide food for the hungry. Last year, Decatur Cares provided meals during the summer months to kids who qualified for free and reduced lunches in the Decatur school district, and this summer, a group in Alvord in preparing to do the same thing. I talked to the group starting the “Alvord Cares” program modeled after Decatur’s successful venture last summer. Watch for an upcoming story about that in the Messenger.

And of course, our local food banks still need our support. Just today, I got an email from Rene’ Ashmore at Wise Area Relief Mission saying the food bank is in need of canned food items, mainly vegetables. Donations may be dropped off at 300 N. Trinity St., on the south side of the building, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Maybe if we all did a little bit, we might help make sure there is plenty of food to go around.

For more information on the Map the Meal Gap study, visit


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