Skagit County Trends Newsletter

SKAGIT COUNTY'S POPULATION WITH FOOD INSECURITY DECREASING -

Nothing is more crucial than having food needs met on a daily basis. When it is difficult to maintain access to food, obtaining or maintaining other necessities of life also become more difficult.

According to ReFED, "American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten. That's 52 million tons of food sent to landfill annually, plus another 10 million tons that is discarded or left unharvested on farms. Meanwhile, one in seven Americans is food insecure."

When looking at the indicator Total and Share of the Population with Food Insecurity on the Trends site, we first notice the decrease from the first point in the series to the most recent. Specifically during the 2011-2015 period, the total number of people experiencing food insecurity in Skagit County was estimated to be 14,690, decreasing from 16,040, or by 8.4% since the 2008-2012 r period.

5-year moving averages are used in this indicator. Moving averages can be helpful when trying to understand or forecast a particular trend. A 5-year moving average is calculated by finding the average for each of the individual five years, adding them together, and dividing by 5.

The total population experiencing food insecurity, during the 2011-2015 period in Skagit County was 12.3%, decreasing from 13.6% since the 2008-2012 interval. Each point in the series for the county was below both the state and U.S. benchmarks for every 5-year moving average in the series.

The share of the youth population (ages 0-17) experiencing food insecurity, during the 2011-2015 5-year period in Skagit County was 21.3%, decreasing from 24.4% since the 2008-2012 interval. For Skagit youth, each point in the series for the county was above both the state and U.S. benchmarks for every 5-year moving average in the series.

Megan Anderson, Executive Director of Skagit Gleaners doesn't know for sure why the share of kids facing food insecurity is always higher than that of the share of adults, but believes it might have something to do with single parents, especially single moms with more than one child.

Single parent families are more likely to be facing food

insecurity than two adult families who both have incomes. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Household Food Security in the United States in 2016, "Rates of food insecurity were higher than the [overall] national average for…households with children headed by a single woman (31.6%) or a single man (21.7%)." These rates are well above the overall national average of 12.3% and 9.9% for families married with children.

Anderson said "As an organization that is frugal waste conscious for working families, last year Skagit Gleaners saved over 1 million pounds of food and clothing from going to landfills."

Skagit Gleaners, which is open 365 days a year (some days with limited hours), is not a food bank, but a collective group of people and families that have come together for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common reasons is to reduce food insecurity, cut down food waste locally and nationally, or even to save money on their grocery budget.

Anderson says participants in Skagit Gleaners must volunteer time and donate money monthly. "Everyone is required to volunteer for 3 1/2 hours and donate $35 a month."

The 400 families who participle in Skagit Gleaners are able to learn skills and better plan their family finances by "thinking ahead and preparing for problems that might come along in life, like a house or car repair, and trimming the grocery budget is a way for families to save money who might not have been able to save money before."

Anderson says it is "a win-win, because companies like grocery stores that donate food instead of throwing it out save on their refuge."

Skagit Gleaners then takes the donated food separating the good from the bad and makes sure it gets into the hands (and mouths) of people instead of going to waste. In fact, Anderson noted that very recently they received a call about a truckload of toys that was going to wind up in a landfill, and they even saved them.

Since food insecurity has so much to do with the health of our communities, let us hope that the downward trend line for this indicator continues to show decreases well into the future.

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