Report: 1 In 4 Arizona Kids Are Hungry

April 21, 2014

A new report said 1 in 5 Arizonans struggle to provide for a basic life necessity: eating. The issue of hunger is also affecting the state’s children. 

The nonprofit group Feeding America said Arizona is above the national average for what the report calls “food insecurity.” Map the Meal Gap measures the number of people affected by hunger in each state and county in the U.S. 

More alarming are the 1 in 4 Arizona children who are struggling to eat.  That’s more than 450,000 kids around the state, according to the report. Nearly 250,000 of them live in Maricopa County. 

Phoenix Union High School District's Ken Patterson is in charge of food services for the district. He said it’s difficult to make sure students are eating once they leave school for the day.  

“I think a lot is being left on the (shoulders) of the children," Patterson said. "In many cases the children are fending for themselves. They don’t know where the food banks are. They don’t want to go alone.”

The report said 27 percent of households in Arizona make too much money to qualify nutrition assistance, but aren’t making enough to provide daily meals.  

Apache, Navajo and Yuma counties have the highest overall rate of food insecurity in the state. Pinal County has the lowest.