Extension and Ag Research News


Many North Dakotans Face Food Insecurity

The NDSU Extension Service offers tips on stretching your food dollars.

Today, 48,481 North Dakotans need financial assistance to provide one of the most basic human needs - food.

“Many North Dakotans, a lot of them children, go without one or more meals each day,” says Desiree Tande, interim North Dakota State University Extension Service nutrition and health specialist.

According to the North Dakota KIDS COUNT, approximately 22,000 children in the state lived in poverty in 2006, the latest year for which data is available.

A recent study published in the Journal of Extension identified the depth of challenges some families face, reporting that some participants of the Food Stamp Program also lack basic kitchen equipment, such as a microwave, measuring cups and cooking pans.

Mental health experts have reported higher levels of maternal depression and lower mental proficiency among children in homes that experience food insecurity.

“As world food prices increase, even more North Dakota families will have difficulty providing enough food for their families,” Tande says.

Rising food prices primarily are due to increased demand, higher energy costs and new export restrictions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). For example, wheat prices increased 130 percent, rice prices increased 74 percent and corn prices increased 31 percent between March 2007 and March 2008, the FAO reports.

“These upward trends are not expected to reverse in the near future,” Tande says. “Food crises are occurring in some parts of the world. North Dakota is not immune to the influence of the price changes.”

Here are some ways she suggests you can stretch your food dollar:

  • Keep track of your food purchases.
  • Determine the amount of money you have budgeted for food and stay within your budget.
  • Plan meals for a week at a time to avoid having to make several trips to the grocery store.
  • Create a grocery list and stick to it.
  • Bring a calculator to help you compare prices. Sometimes a smaller package of a product costing a little more is a better deal for you than a larger package costing less if you won’t use all the food in the larger package before it spoils.
  • Determine what foods you already have at home so you don’t buy more of the same items when you go to the store.
  • Use sales ads to help you plan your weekly menus.
  • Clip coupons, but only for the items you need.
  • Make meals from “scratch” because that’s usually cheaper than buying convenience foods.
  • When buying fruits and vegetables, check whether frozen, canned or in-season produce is more economical.
  • Store and prepare food to minimize waste.
  • Grow your own produce.

For more information about spending your money wisely on food, visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodwise/. To determine if your family qualifies for the Food Stamp Program, call your local county social services office or the state office at (701) 328-2328, or visit the state Food Stamp Program Web site at http://www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/foodstamps.html.

“Making sure children have enough to eat and parents have every opportunity to deliver healthful meals to their families is important for good physical, mental, family and community health,” Tande says.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Desiree Tande, (701) 231-7478, desiree.tande@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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