The Lists: Food stamps and poverty in Mississippi

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi may lead the nation in Obesity, but according to a new study, a quarter of our state cannot afford food.

The latest gallup report confirmed that for the sixth consecutive year, 25 percent of Mississippians do not earn enough money to buy food.

Mississippi does offer a food stamp program known as SNAP; however, in November of 2013, over 300,000 participants benefits were cut by 5 percent, which left program participants anywhere from $11 to $36 dollars short for food.

According to sociologist and JCJC Professor Stacey Ruth, this percentage is not surprising.

"Well, I think one of the things you have to look at is there are a lot of collusionary aspect of poverty and unemployment," said Ruth. "The law of averages tell you that there is gonna be poverty and there is gonna be poor educational opportunities to teach about eating properly or nutritional values."

Ruth also said those who do utilize the SNAP program may not be able to be concerned about nutrition because healthier options are not within their budget.

Seven on Your Side reporters followed a viewer on food stamps to a trip to the grocery store. The viewer said she tried to think about nutritional value, but she was more concerned about price.

Some items selected from the viewer's buggy included a box of assorted cereal, instant macaroni and a two pound bag of French fries, rounding up to $9 dollars. For that same price, the viewer could have chosen a three pound bag of apples, a two pound bag of baby carrots, and a head of broccoli without breaking her budget.

According to Ruth, people faced without funds for healthy foods can reach out to local charity organizations for assistance.

"There are a lot of organizations out there that subsidize families what they can't provide for themselves, whether it's food pantries, Christian Food Mission, or the Salvation Army," said Ruth. "But this is something communities really need to be vested in."

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