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J Rural Health. 2004 Spring;20(2):173-80.

High prevalence of food insecurity and hunger in households in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta.

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  • 1USDA, ARS, Delta NIRI, 900 South Shackleford Road, Suite 509, Little Rock, AR 72211, USA.



Residents of the Lower Mississippi Delta of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are at risk for food insecurity since a high proportion of the population live in households with incomes below the poverty level and have reduced access to food and decreased availability of a variety of foods. However, the magnitude of the problem is unknown because presently only nationwide and state estimates of food insecurity are available.


This study was conducted by the Lower-Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Consortium to determine the prevalence of household food insecurity, identify high-risk subgroups in the Lower Delta, and compare to national data.


A 2-stage stratified cluster sample representative of the population in 36 counties in the Lower Delta was selected using list-assisted random digit dialing telephone methodology. A cross-sectional telephone survey of 1662 households was conducted in 18 of the 36 counties using the US Food Security Survey Module.


Twenty-one percent of Lower Delta households were food insecure, double the 2000 nationwide rate of 10.5%. Within the Lower Delta, groups with the highest rates of food insecurity were households with income below $15,000, black households, and households with children. The prevalence of hunger in Delta households with white children was 3.2% and in households with black children was 11.0%, compared to nationwide estimates of 0.3% and 1.6%.


The Lower Mississippi Delta is characterized by a high prevalence of food insecurity and hunger. Future efforts to identify the household and community determinants of food insecurity to reduce its high prevalence are indicated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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