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Nearly 112,000 Utah households struggled with food insecurity — limited or uncertain access to enough food — in 2016, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The data reveal a statistically significant decline in Utah household food insecurity in 2016 from the previous year, with the rate dropping from 14.3 percent to 11.5 percent, a 2.8 percent improvement.

“We are glad that food insecurity numbers are moving down, but it’s too early to celebrate. Utah still has a significant number of households who struggle to afford enough food,” said Gina Cornia, Executive Director, Utahns Against Hunger (UAH). “Study after study show that food insecurity harms health, the ability to learn, productivity, and the nation’s economic strength. The nation’s largest federal nutrition programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and school meals, serve as the first line of defense against food insecurity for tens of millions of Americans. Both the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget and the House Budget Committee’s FY 2018 budget resolution propose dramatic cuts to SNAP and school meals.”

“Historically, federal nutrition programs have enjoyed bipartisan support, creating a safety net that is used by our most vulnerable in communities across the state. These programs also support parents who are working; in Utah 86% of SNAP households with a working age adult had earned income in the last 12 months,” said Cornia. “Utahns Against Hunger is calling on our federal delegation to step up and protect the integrity, structure, and funding for these vital programs so we can keep moving in the right direction. SNAP and school meals have a proven track record of effectively addressing food insecurity. Without question, cuts to these programs would make food insecurity in this country, and in Utah, far worse.”

Utahns Against Hunger is also asking Utah’s federal delegation and the public to take the SNAP Challenge, living on a SNAP food budget of $4.20 a day. More information about the Challenge can be found at www.uah.org.