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Surveys Find Outright Hunger among Latino Immigrants in North Carolina

Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers have found high rates of hunger in surveys of immigrant Latino families in eastern and western North Carolina,// southwestern Virginia and Forsyth County.

“Although the United States enjoys a relative lack of hunger, there are segments of the N.C. population – Latino immigrants – with hunger more severe than areas of persistent poverty like Appalachia,” said Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D.

The overall hunger rate for the U.S. is 4.3 percent. The Wake Forest surveys found that rates of hunger among Latino immigrants ranged from almost twice the national rate (8 percent) to more than eight times the national rate (35.6 percent). The results were reported in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

“About 40 percent of the respondents in each study reported worrying that food would run out and that food bought would not last,” said Quandt, the lead author. That combination, less severe than “hunger,” is viewed as “food insecurity” and includes such actions as relying on just a few kinds of food and cutting meal size for children and adults.

Quandt and her colleagues found that “food insecurity” ranged from 35.6 percent to 41.8 percent in the four surveys, compared to 13.3 percent in the United States.

Besides Forsyth County, the other surveys included two conducted in eastern North Carolina in Harnett, Johnston, Sampson and Wake counties (one also included Duplin County) and the fourth in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties of western North Carolina and Carroll, Smyth and Grayson counties in Virginia.

“More than 25 percent of respondents in each study reported that their children were not eating enough because of lack of money to buy food,” the researchers reported.

“In many ways, the experience of Latino immigrants of hunger is the same as non-immigrants – they are hungry despite working and earning wages,” said Quandt, professo
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