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Strain: food insecurity levels at all-time high

December 11, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said more than 14 percent of the nation’s households have trouble putting food on the table during some time of the year and asked Louisiana residents who are able to consider donating to their local food banks this holiday season.

“Food insecurity means American families are finding it tougher and tougher to put good nutritional food on the table to feed their families,” Strain said. “The United States Department of Agriculture says more than 17 million homes were food insecure in 2008. It’s the largest amount ever since the USDA began keeping statistics in 1995.  

“Closer to home food insecurity means more state residents than ever will rely on local food banks to help them get through the holiday season.

“Please be generous in your support of your local food banks and donate if you can.”

According to USDA statistics, Louisiana ranks first in the number of young children (age 0-5) who are food insecure. For more than 200,000 Louisiana children, child food insecurity means possible impairment in intellectual, physical and emotional development that can hinder them from reaching their full potential.

“The American farmer is the best in the world but he continues to see low prices for dairy, poultry and seafood.

“If our farmers go out of business it means Americans will have to rely on foreign countries for our food supply.

“I support the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) plan to assist producers and help people who are being affected by the economic downturn.

“Nearly 36 million Americans participate in the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – an increase of more than 21 percent from a year ago. As of August 2009, more than 740,000 Louisiana residents participate in the SNAP program, according to the state Department of Social Services. SNAP is commonly known as the Food Stamp Program.

“Removing the food surplus from the market and putting it into food assistance programs would quickly stabilize prices for these foods and allow producers to break-even or better on their farms. The aid will be distributed through food assistance programs, which could include food banks, school lunch programs, SNAP and foreign military food assistance in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.”