High Child-Hunger Rates in Northern Arizona
A recent study lists Arizona as having the fifth highest level of child food insecurity in the country. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, most Northern Arizona counties are higher than even the state average.
Feeding America defines food insecurity as a lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The organization says in Arizona, 28 percent of kids are food insecure. But in Navajo County it’s nearly 40 percent. Cherilyn Yazzie works for the nutrition services program with Navajo County.
“In rural areas in Arizona we have higher unemployment rates. The other piece to that would be, that access to the healthy foods, like in your grocery stores or in the convenient stores, we don’t always have the fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Yazzie.
While kids have access to subsidized or free school meals, that doesn’t cover weekends which for some schools in Navajo County are three days. Elsewhere in the state, child food insecurity has reached nearly 30 percent in both Coconino and Yavapai Counties and 43 percent in Apache County, the highest in Arizona.