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Survey: 21 Percent of Arizonans Struggle to Afford Food

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More than one-in-five Arizonans reported not having enough money to buy food for themselves or for their family on at least one occasion in 2013.

That finding comes from Gallup, which polled more than 178,000 people nationwide last year on a variety of subjects. A little more than 21 percent of Arizona residents reported not being able to afford food at least once, and only nine other states had higher levels.

See also:
-Phoenix Metro Area Is Second in the Nation in Poverty

Mississippi led the poll for the sixth year in a row -- a little more than 25 percent of that state's residents faced food insecurity last year.

This is the first time in the six-year history of this poll that Arizona has had one of the 10 highest levels, according to Gallup.

Federal government data has come up with similar estimates of food insecurity in Arizona. In 2011, when the most recent estimate was released, an estimated 19.1 percent of Arizonans were suffering from food insecurity -- a rate that had already been increasing over the previous two years.

The national average, according to Gallup's survey, isn't profoundly better than Arizona's, at 18.9 percent. That's an increase over 18.2 percent in 2012, and 17.8 percent back in 2008 -- the lowest total over the six years.

"Americans' growing struggles to afford food may be linked to a rise in food prices across the country, particularly meat prices, while national incomes have largely flat-lined since the recession," according to Gallup's report. "Trouble affording food may also be linked to the national rise in unhealthy eating habits in 2013 and the uptick in the obesity rate."

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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