Study names Memphis "Hunger Capital of the United States"

Published: Mar. 29, 2010 at 8:13 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2010 at 9:21 PM CDT
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By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new study claims Memphis is the Hunger Capital of the United States.

A recent study by the Food Research Action Center says 26 percent of people in the greater Memphis metropolitan area could not afford to buy food for their families over the previous 12 months.

According to Susan Sanford at the Mid-South Food Bank, food shortages are becoming a growing problem nationwide.  

"There is so much poverty in our area and around the country that it is just criminal," she said Monday.

Sanford said the city's new title of "Hunger Capital" is proof there are many families in need, attributing the dubious honor to the recession and unemployment.

"A lot of people who were middle class one year ago or two years ago are no longer because they've lost their job or are underwater on their mortgages," she said.

Experts also say the region suffers from high rates of obesity as a result of families eating cheaper and less nutritious food.

According to Sanford, demand at the Mid-South Food Bank has never been greater.

"They're not used to having to ask for emergency assistance," she said. "A lot of them cry or are embarrassed. Some of them just say, 'I can't do this,' so it is really a desperate situation."

Last year, more than 186,000 people in 31 counties surrounding Memphis relied on agencies like the Mid-South Food Bank for their next meal, a 28 percent increase from four years ago.

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