The issue of hunger is often associated with residents of coastal cities where the cost of living tends to be high, but a new study shows some of the greatest need can be found in the San Joaquin Valley, where much of the nation's food supply is grown and raised.
Jon Bailey, rural public policy program director at the Center for Rural Affairs, authored the report. He examined the use of food stamps, now called SNAP benefits, from 2008 to 2012.
"During that time period, more households in rural areas received SNAP benefits than households in more urban areas," says Bailey. "That includes both metropolitan and small-city areas."
During the years reviewed, more than 14 percent of rural households received SNAP benefits, compared to slightly under 11 percent of urban households.
According to Bailey, another key finding is higher percentages of households with seniors and children receiving food support in rural areas and small cities than in larger urban areas.
"SNAP is providing a way for those people and those households to meet their food needs, which is important, because those two population groups are probably most at risk of hunger and food insecurity," says Bailey.
In rural areas, one in nine households has a SNAP recipient who is either under age 18, or an adult 60 years of age or older.