The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Arkansas Food Security Somewhat Improved; Delta Still Ranks Near the Bottom in Overall Food Security--Sept. 23, 2021

Posted on September 23, 2021 at 12:44 PM

The latest food security developments showed mixed results for the Delta, with Arkansas in the middle of the pack nationally in USDA overall “low food security” rankings, and increases in SNAP funding a step forward in the fight against hunger.

But Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi were still at the bottom in the category of “very low food security.”

Delta still has three worst levels for “very low food security”: “The bad news is that Arkansas was tied with Mississippi at 5.9% for the second worst level of “very low food security,” with only Louisiana at 6.5% ranking lower.” said Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director.

There were other more positive developments: for the category of “low food security” Arkansas’ 12.6% level was in the middle of the pack nationally (10.7%) and did show some improvement.

Increases in SNAP funding: Permanent increases in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called Food Stamps) from $121 to $169 per person per month are positive developments for nutrition in the region and nationally.

America ranks among the lowest of higher income countries in food security: In assessing this data it should be emphasized that the USA ranks near the bottom of higher income countries–10th out of the 11 higher income countries–in food security so not being too far below the national USA average is not a positive indication.

The disturbing result was in “very low food security,” where Arkansas and Mississippi were tied for the second worst in the country at 5.9%, below Louisiana’s highest rate of 6.5%.

“Very low food security” is defined as reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. In plain terms, these people frequently experience real hunger.

The Delta had five of the eight states with “very low food security”–Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas were the three worst, with Tennessee at sixth and Alabama at eighth. The other three were West Virginia, Maine and New Mexico.

Arkansas fared somewhat better in the category of “low food security,” with its 12.6% level ranking similar to many other states in the middle of the pack, and not at the bottom with Mississippi at 15.3%, West Virginia at 15.1%, and Louisiana at 14.8%.

Arkansas’ 12.6% level of low food security was similar to many other states at that level so it was not far below the national average of 10.7%, although again that is not much of an achievement because the USA lags well behind most other higher income nations.

Low food security is defined as “reduced quality, variability, or desirability of diet.” People in this category usually don’t actually go hungry, but they have to buy cheaper, fatty foods with poor nutritional levels. This leads to obesity, diabetes, higher levels of heart disease and other nutrition-related health problems.

The USA national average ranks 10th out of the 11 higher income countries in food security, according to World Economic Forum.

In another key economic indicator, US poverty levels also rank near the bottom of higher income countries, with one survey showing the US second worst after Israel and lagging behind Spain, Greece and Italy. Other surveys similarly show the USA lagging behind most of the “richest” nations.

The one positive sign–Arkansas’ food security did improve significantly in 2018-2020 over 2015-2017: Arkansas’ food security did improve somewhat in longer-term measurements, with the average of food insecurity in 2015-17 of 17.4% decreasing to an average of 12.6% in 2018-2020.

Improvement is always a positive sign and this trend must continue if Arkansas is to arrive at a level that will not be harmful to the state’s health.

Graphs below–thanks. Lee Powell, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347


Louisiana 6.5%

Arkansas–tied for second 5.9%

Mississippi–tied for second 5.9%

West Virginia 5.7%

Maine 5.5%

Tennessee 5.3%

New Mexico 5.3%

Alabama 5.2%


Mississippi 15.3%

West Virginia 15.1%

Louisiana 14.8%

Alabama 14.0%

Kentucky 13.8%

In a range similar to 26 states– Arkansas 12.6%

USA national average 10.7%