Families in the Southern States Turn to Food Stamps to Survive the Dire Effects of Inflation

The rising cost of food in America is outpacing general inflation, and research shows that states in the South are turning to food stamps more than any other region in the country. 

As part of their recent merger with Thrifty Guardian, news outlet Mama Say What?! conducted a study that identifies which states are often looking for information about food stamps online. This study analyses Google Trends and Ahrefs to determine when and where people most need food security support. 

With over 399,000 Americans searching for food stamp information monthly, the affordability crisis is leaving its mark. Food stamps are a helpful avenue for families looking for ways to stretch their dollars

The Rising Cost of Food in America

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its latest Consumer Price Index on food on August 25, revealing a 4.9 percent increase in food prices compared to last year. When assessing this increase against overall inflation, food costs rose an additional 1.7 percent more than the overall economy-wide inflation of 3.2 percent from last year. 

The additional increased inflation, specifically in food costs, is leaving its mark on Americans in the South as they continue to search for food stamp information online. 

Of course, the food prices do vary depending on whether meals are purchased at the grocery store or while dining out. According to the latest CPI, food-at-home costs increased by 3.6 percent compared to last year, while food-away-from-home costs rose a staggering 7.1 percent from last year. Although eating at home can save you money, food-at-home prices still exceed the average inflation economy-wide.

The study by Mama Say What?! researchers reveals which states are consistently seeking food stamp support and where food security is becoming an increasing concern in the country. 

States With the Most Consistent Need for Food Stamps

By analyzing four popular food stamp-related phrases, researchers could score each state’s search popularity out of 400 and rank them accordingly. 12-month and 30-day trends were examined to produce the rankings.

Notably, the two lists include nearly identical states, revealing that eight of the top 10 states on both lists have sustained interest in learning about food stamps. On the 30-day list, every state that ranks is from the Southern US, showing a more prevalent need for food security support down South than anywhere else. 

States appearing on both lists include Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma. 

First place on both the 12-month and 30-day lists is the state of Louisiana, which scored 377 and 304, respectively. Louisiana is the only state with a score of over 300, indicating a substantially higher interest in food stamp information than any other state. 

Of the four queries analyzed, “apply for food stamps” has the highest search volume per state.

On the 12-month list, the gaps between state scores are much narrower than on the 30-day list, indicating greater disparity recently between which areas are facing higher levels of food insecurity. 

Other Noteworthy States Seeking Support

Several states appear on one of the top ten lists but not the other. This distinction indicates either a dip or a recent spike in that region’s need for food stamps.

Appearing only on the 12-month list are the states of Maryland and Delaware. Maryland places eighth on the list, while Delaware secures the tenth place slot. The fact that these two states do not appear on the 30-day list shows that the amount of individuals looking for information on food stamps has recently decreased. 

Also of note on the 12-month list is that Delaware is the only state from the North that features on the list, reinforcing the trend that Southern States are struggling at the checkout counter more than those up North. 

Kentucky and South Carolina feature on the 30-day list but not on the 12-month list, indicating a recent surge in searches for food stamp-related queries in these regions. Of all of the states on the list, Kentucky has the most significant recorded spike in searches overall, meaning this state’s residents are feeling a most urgent uptick in financial pressures necessitating the use of food stamps. 

Future Costs of Food

As we move into the final months of 2023, Americans may not see reprieve as the USDA predicts prices will continue to rise in categories like beef and veal, other meats, poultry, dairy products, fats and oils, processed fruits and vegetables, sugar and sweets, cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages, and other foods. 

While the battle against inflation continues, more and more Americans may turn to social support to supplement their income

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The post Families in the Southern States Turn to Food Stamps to Survive the Dire Effects of Inflation first appeared on Mama Say What?!

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