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One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food

One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food

North Dakota has lowest percentage of residents unable to afford food

by Alyssa Brown

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One in four Mississippi residents report there was at least one time in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed -- more than in any other state in the first half of 2012. Residents in Alabama and Delaware are also among the most likely to struggle to afford food. Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont are among the least likely to have this problem.

States Most Likely to Struggle to Afford Food States Least Likely to Struggle to Afford Food

These findings are from surveys conducted with 177,662 U.S. adults from January through June 2012 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup asks 1,000 Americans each day if there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.

In 15 states, at least one in five Americans say they struggled to afford the food they needed at least once during the past 12 months. Nationwide, 18.2% of Americans so far in 2012 say there have been times when they could not afford the food they needed, on par with the 18.6% who had trouble affording food in 2011.

Residents of states in the Southeast and Southwest regions are the most likely in the country to struggle to afford food. Those living in the Mountain Plains and Midwest regions are the least likely to experience food hardship.

For complete results for each state, see page 2.


There are wide disparities across states and regions so far in 2012 in the percentage of residents who at times lacked the money to purchase the food they or their families needed. While nearly one in four Mississippi residents say they could not afford to buy the food they needed in the past 12 months, only one in 10 North Dakota residents say the same.

In 2012, the worst drought since the 1950s has affected nearly 80% of agricultural land in the United States, which may drive up the cost of food in the months ahead. While Americans are no more likely to struggle to afford food thus far in 2012 than in the past, more residents may face problems as the drought-related crop damage results in a shortage of inputs in the food supply and begins to affect retail prices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that consumers will notice price increases within two months for beef, pork, poultry, and dairy, but the full effects of the increase in corn prices for packaged and processed foods will likely take 10 to 12 months to appear on supermarket shelves. States in the Mountain Plains and Midwest regions, which have the largest corn yield in the nation, will likely continue to have the lowest percentages of residents who lack enough money to buy food. Those in the South will likely be hardest hit, as they are already the most likely in the nation to report struggling to afford food.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking/the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index survey January through June 2012, with a random sample of 177,662 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±0.3 percentage points.

The margin of sampling error for most states is ±1 to ±2 percentage points, but is as high as ±4 points for smaller states such as Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, and Hawaii.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

% of Residents struggling to afford food by state

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