The Greensboro-High Point metro area’s ranking as No. 2 in food hardship has received ample attention and galvanized citizens to take action, particularly in High Point.

But the situation isn’t improving, according to the Washington-based Food Research & Action Center, which released its new rankings earlier this month. Now, we’re No. 1.

Greensboro-High Point moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the annual review, while Baton Rouge, La., Fresno, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; and Jackson, Miss. respectively filled out the top five positions.

The ranking is based on the percentage of households where members say that they did not have enough money to buy food at some time during the past 12 months. That number is 27.9 percent in Greensboro and High Point — significantly higher than Baton Rouge and Fresno, which tied for No. 2, with 24.9 percent of households experiencing food hardship. Nationally, 17 percent of households report experiencing hunger sometime during the past 12 months.

Among the causes of food hardship identified in the report:

“Many families simply do not have adequate resources — from wages, Social Security and other retirement benefits, income supports, SNAP and WIC — to purchase enough food. Too many working‐age adults are unemployed or working part‐time jobs, but want full‐time jobs. Many are working for wages that are not enough to afford the basics for themselves and their families. Income support programs like TANF, Unemployment Insurance and Worker’s Compensation are inadequate and increasingly difficult to apply for and maintain benefits. And while SNAP is critical in providing nutrition assistance to both working and non-working households — supplementing wages or Social Security or other sources of income — the benefits just are not enough for most families to make it through the month. An expert committee of the prestigious Institute of Medicine issued a report in January 2013 explaining why the SNAP allotment is not enough for most families.”

The Food Research & Action Center recommends government intervention to solve the problem. of hunger.

“Food hardship rates are too high throughout the nation,” the report concludes. “It is crucial that the nation move towards full employment, strengthen wages, and develop public supports that will dramatically decrease these food hardship numbers.

“As a nation, even in difficult times, we have the resources to eliminate hunger for everyone, regardless of age or family configuration. The cost of not doing so — in terms of damage to health, edcuation, early childhood development and productivity — is just too high. The moral cost of not doing so is even higher.”

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