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food insecurity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing stricter requirements for people receiving food stamps.It’s part of the farm bill passed by Congress, and if these new measures are adopted, it could mean more people in Florida will go hungry.

While using food stamps to purchase vegetables at a farmers market may seem like a simple exchange, it depends on complex government contracting requirements and increasingly sophisticated technology.

The number of Floridians living in poverty has fallen since the Great Recession. But it’s still higher than the national average. The federal government has released two reports showing about 14 percent of Floridians had incomes below the poverty line. 

Despite a strong economy, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one of their basic needs last year, including paying for food, health care, housing or utilities.

For Many College Students, Hunger 'Makes It Hard To Focus'

Jul 31, 2018

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

When families don’t know where their next meal will come from, it can be especially hard on young children. A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows that 5-year-olds who experience food insecurity are more likely than other kids to have behavior problems.

More than 1.4 million veterans of all ages rely on government food assistance, but food insecurity is disproportionately common among post 9/11 veterans.

Molly Urnek / WUSF Public Media

The freshman fifteen: it’s a phenomenon where college students gain fifteen pounds the first year away from home. However, a growing number of students don’t add weight — they lose it.

According to a new study conducted by Temple University and the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36 percent of U.S. college students experience food insecurity – the limited availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.

The Agape Food Bank in Winter Haven shut its doors at the end of December.

But some charities believe the change may actually benefit those in need of food assistance in Polk County.

A new legislative proposal could require Florida schools to distribute free or reduce-price meal applications to all students, not just those in need. The bill applies to schools in the national school lunch program or the breakfast program.

Days after Hurricane Irma battered South Florida, Rufus James walked through his Liberty City neighborhood in Miami looking for paid work to chop down trees and clean up yards.

Like many Floridians, James, 57, was going on day four with no electricity. At home, he had three grandchildren to feed. They’re eating “cornflakes and whatever we can come up with. I’m looking for some food,” he said.

Before the storm, James said he worked odd jobs — helping elderly neighbors mow their lawns or move heavy items. Post storm, no one was paying for help yet.

Floridians in need can now use a mobile app to locate food banks and support services across the state. 

Daylina Miller/Wikimedia Commons

Polk County is a place of so many contradictions. It's the home of beautiful lakes, charming downtowns and historic landmarks. But this birthplace of several of Florida's governors, was also named by one recent study as having the country's second largest percentage of people struggling to avoid hunger.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Polk County is consistently ranked as having among the highest rates of suburban poverty in the country. And one recent study put it second in the nation for the number of people struggling to avoid hunger. The beautiful lakes and historic downtowns form a stark contrast to the sobering statistics.

Florida Matters recently hosted a town hall discussion on these issues in Lakeland, at Florida Southern College’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of Florida’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced priced meals during the academic year. Yet during summer vacation, the need for healthy, fresh foods can actually increase. But some local community groups are teaming up to try and fill in the gap.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

On a recent Tuesday, the weekly produce market co-op at the Woodbrook Estates mobile home community in Lakeland was bustling. 

Daylina Miller/WikiMedia Commons

Polk County is a place of so many contradictions. It's the home of beautiful lakes, charming downtowns and historic landmarks. But this birthplace of several of Florida's governors, was also named by one recent study as having the country's second largest percentage of people struggling to avoid hunger.


Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

  It’s a problem that affects 700,000 people in the ten-county Tampa Bay area: food insecurity.

Thomas Mantz, the Executive Director of the group Feeding Tampa Bay says food insecurity is when people like you and me don’t have consistent access to food due to a lack of money or other resources. 

Diana Stem in the older food storage facility.
Provided by St. Petersburg Free Clinic

Pinellas County has nearly 150,000 people who sometimes don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to the group Feeding America.

They are known as being food insecure.

In Sunlit Paradise, Seniors Go Hungry

May 29, 2015
Ariel Min / PBS NewsHour

It wasn’t until the Maffuccis found themselves living on cups of coffee, and coffee alone, that they finally called a food pantry for help.

The couple had sold their suburban New Jersey home where they had raised three children and set out to pursue the glossy dream of an easy-going retirement in sunny southwest Florida.

But Mina and Angelo Maffucci quickly ran out of money—overtaken by illness, bad luck and an economic crisis that claimed their dream home in Naples to foreclosure. They soon found themselves staring at an empty cupboard.

The University of Florida is opening a food pantry for needy students and staff.

The pantry is scheduled to open when Summer B classes begin June 29.

The Gainesville Sun reports the Dean of Students office will run the pantry, which is a university-wide collaboration.

Hunger Relief in Tampa Bay

Sep 10, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its Food Security in the United States report for 2012 and it revealed almost 15 percent of U.S. households are what it calls "food insecure."  

That means at some point during the year, members of those households did not have consistent access to adequate food for active healthy living.

The Mosaic Company recently hosted a hunger relief forum at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. In full disclosure, Mosaic is a business sponsor of WUSF Public Media.