June 13, 2023

Florida Policy CEO says food insecurity remains an issue

Talia Blake writes:

"Kids are on summer break which means families are spending more to keep the pantry stocked.

WMFE's Talia Blake caught up with Florida Policy Institute’s CEO Sadaf Knight [emphasis added] to talk about the latest on food insecurity in Central Florida. She said more than 10-percent of residents across the state are struggling with access to healthy foods.

The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Talia Blake: What is the state of food insecurity now in Central Florida?

Sadaf Knight: Food insecurity is defined by USDA as when people don't have enough food, and they don't have access to enough food to be healthy and to live a healthy active lifestyle. In Florida, the food rate of food insecurity is 10.6%. So, that means 10.6% of people in Florida, according to Feeding America, don't have access to enough food. This is usually driven by things like poverty, unemployment, or even things like economic instability, like just having one unexpected expense come up or an emergency, and that can really destabilize households and lead to food insecurity.

Talia Blake: You said it's around 10% right now, is that an increase or decrease from last year?

Sadaf Knight: I don't know exactly by the numbers. But, I do know that there are other surveys that have shown that it's actually getting more difficult for families to afford groceries. And that has gone up in the past year.

Talia Blake: The deal to raise the federal debt limit has made changes to SNAP benefits, how will that impact food insecure residence in Central Florida?

Sadaf Knight: Anytime there's work requirements that are increased for receiving benefits, that really just adds more red tape for people to get SNAP benefits. It doesn't actually help to improve their ability to find or keep work. It creates additional barriers and limits access to SNAP benefits which are very important for people when they're facing other economic challenges."


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