Here’s what we thought about this week, the 10,242nd in Mississippi state history:

Headline of the Week: “25 percent of people in Mississippi can’t afford food”

Eleanor Goldberg at The Huffington Post highlights food insecurity in Mississippi, with a focus on the policy problems behind our state’s hunger rate:

The average SNAP recipient in Mississippi receives about $4 a day, whereas residents in Hawaii, for example, get more than $7 a day, according to the USDA.

The other plaguing problem is the way in which SNAP recipients have to go about getting their benefits.

Applicants have to undergo in-person interviews, which can present additional scheduling and transportation obstacles. In many other states, applicants can be interviewed over the phone, according to Rethink Mississippi.

Additionally, Mississippi is the only state that distributes the SNAP packages for women, children and infants at state-run distribution centers. Almost 90 percent of the counties there have just one distribution center. Other states allow SNAP members to collect their food with more convenient Electronic Benefits Transfer cards.

The article cites Tyler Mac Innis’s February 5 piece for RM about Mississippi’s food assistance programs. Read it here.

The lack of grocery stores in areas such as the Delta constrains access to healthy, local, affordable foods for many Mississippians and perpetuates the twin crises of hunger and obesity. Southern food historian Marcie Cohen Ferris speaks to the nontraditional face of hunger amid the food deserts of the South in an interview by Meara Sharma in Guernica: 

In the late 1970s, the appearance of hunger and malnutrition in the South changed radically. Malnourished Southerners were increasingly obese and did not fit the traditional image of “skin-and-bones” impoverishment. Calorie-dense, packaged, and processed convenience foods and sugary drinks—the foods most readily accessible in fast-food venues and urban and rural markets—became the most affordable, quickest means to feed a hungry family in the 1980s. Even the region’s beloved “sweet tea,” heavily sugared ice tea, consumed year-round, was a major component in malnutrition and obesity.

Graph of the Week

Notes: Data rom 2011-2012. See http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/rate-by-fpl-2/ for notes and sources.
Notes: Data from 2011-2012. See http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/rate-by-fpl-2/ for notes and sources.

From Jake’s article, “The ACA offers working Mississippians a long-overdue raise. State leaders should embrace it”:

 In 2012, only 12 percent of Mississippians earning less than the poverty line received insurance on the job, compared to 85 percent of Mississippians with mid-range incomes and above.

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Little-Known Fact of the Week

There are 38 times more chickens than people in Mississippi.

– From the book 501 Little-Known Facts, Obscure Trivia, World Records and Historical Minutia from the State of Mississippi by D.K. White

Thinking Ahead

Next week’s theme will be income inequality and mobility. Matthew Williams of the Mississippi Center for Justice has delved into the details in a three-part series to be published Tuesday through Thursday.

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