1. Press Release
  2. Economic Justice

Eight States Now on Both Hungriest and Poorest Lists

By Timothy McHugh, October 3, 2019


Washington, DC – Eight states now rank in the top ten as both the hungriest and poorest in the country, according to recently released government data. New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and West Virginia were on both lists in 2017. Now, for 2018, Oklahoma has joined their ranks.

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

While there have been reductions in national poverty and hunger rates, the recent Census and Agriculture Department reports show that poverty goes together with food-insecurity. The national poverty rate dipped to 11.8 percent in 2018 from 12.3 percent in 2017. Roughly 11.1 percent of households are food insecure, meaning they struggle to put food on the table.

Two graphics – Top Ten Poorest and Top Ten Hungriest States – illustrate the data analysis made by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). These states have hunger and poverty rates well above the national average.

“There is much welcome news in the latest government data, but we cannot ignore the fact that hunger and poverty persist in our country. These decreases are important and they reaffirm the vital role federal anti-poverty programs play in ensuring low-income Americans can obtain the benefits that help meet our basic human needs,” said Diane Randall, FCNL executive secretary. “As Quakers, we believe that no one in this country should be hungry and suffer from want.”

The government data reflect the important role assistance programs like refundable tax credits (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) play in preventing people from falling into poverty and ensuring that they have enough food. These refundable tax credits prevented 7.9 million people from falling into poverty in 2018.

“For millions of American families, SNAP is the difference between having enough food or not,” said Amelia Kegan, FCNL legislative director for domestic policy. “SNAP must be protected from harmful changes proposed by the administration that would cause deep benefit cuts or force families off the program altogether.”

If the Administration’s proposed rules are allowed to go forward, Americans in New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Oklahoma will be among those worst affected. In these states, hunger and poverty rates are consistently near 20 percent.

As a Quaker organization, FCNL believes each person has the right to access basic necessities in a safe and sustainable environment. FCNL seeks to eliminate poverty at home and abroad through economic policies that expand opportunities for all.

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.

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Timothy McHugh

  • Director of Media Relations

Tim leads organizational efforts to communicate about issues, victories, priorities, and updates through all available news channels – specifically the major media outlets. He is responsible for providing FCNL staff with opportunities to convey our message – in print and through the airways – to the public and throughout the country. He keeps FCNL issues and staff on the collective radars of reporters and journalists nationwide. Lastly, he runs FCNL several media-focused social media channels.