In 2016, about 1 million Missourians were food insecure. In the past three years, that number has dropped to 865,000, or approximately 15% of the population.
These numbers were reported in the Hunger Atlas produced by MU's Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security. This year’s atlas is the fifth since the first edition in 2008.
The atlas uses data from Feeding America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create its tables for each county.
Food security is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
The atlas measures the amount of Missouri’s population that experiences food insecurity. Then, it assesses how each county in the state addresses the needs of those who fall into the food insecure category.
A county’s level of need and its performance, or how well it addresses those needs, are rated from “very high” to “very low.”
Performance is assessed by participation in programs that exist to help those who are food insecure, as well as the number of people eligible to participate.
According to the 2019 atlas, Boone County ranked low in need and very low in performance. In the 2016 atlas, Boone County ranked low in need and high in performance.
Sandy Rikoon, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, explained in an email that drops in participation in Boone County’s financial aid programs, such as free and reduced-price lunch and food stamps, caused the county’s very low performance rating.
“At the same time, if the state average for participation rises, and Boone County’s rate fell, then in comparison to other counties the relative performance is even lower,” Rikoon said.
This year, 40.9% of people who were eligible for food stamps in Boone County were participating in the program. Statewide, 63.2% of eligible people were participating. In the 2016 atlas, 44.6% of eligible Boone County residents participated in the program compared to Missouri’s 46.8%. The 2019 performance rating for the county was very low, and the 2016 rating was average.