A closer look at hunger and the need to support Arizona’s food banks




    A volunteer helps fill boxes at St. Mary's Food Bank. Photo via Facebook

    Family and friends gathered yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving, which reminds many of us of those who are less fortunate. Thanksgiving may be over, but the problem isn’t: Arizona  has the dubious distinction of being the eleventh hungriest state in the nation. 

    Underemployment, stagnant wages, soaring housing costs often mean that low-income families are turning to the regional food banks and local pantries to get enough food to make it to the end of the month – all year long, not just during the holidays.

    Here’s a closer look at food insecurity in the Grand Canyon State with data provided by the Feeding America network.

    37 million – According to the USDA’s 2019 Household Food Insecurity in the United States report, more than 37 million people in the United States struggle with hunger.

    979,170 – the number of people in Arizona who are struggling with hunger

    348,550 – the number of children in Arizona who face food insecurity

    14% – the food insecurity rate in Arizona

    482,358,000 – People facing hunger in Arizona are estimated to report needing $482,358,000 more per year to meet their food needs.

    35 – the percentage of people facing food insecurity in Arizona who don’t qualify for SNAP or other nutrition programs

    852,000 – the number of Arizonans receiving SNAP benefits

    396,000 – the number of Arizona children receiving SNAP benefits 

    46.1 – the percentage of Arizona households receiving SNAP benefits that have children

    91.3 – the percentage of Arizona SNAP recipients who are U.S.-born citizens

    274 – the average amount of SNAP benefits that Arizona families receive each month

    86.4 – the percentage of Arizona families receiving SNAP benefits that are below the federal poverty limit

    $1.70 – Economists estimate that every dollar a household redeems through SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

    4 – the number of Feeding America Food Banks that serve Arizona

    97,426,474 – The St. Mary’s Food Bank distributed more than 97 million pounds of food to families and individuals last year 

    3,100,000 (including 30,000 Arizona) – number of Americans who would lose SNAP benefits under the latest restrictive Trump administration proposal

    Jim Small
    Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.