Hunger by the Numbers: How many basketball arenas would it take…

OK Policy intern Amanda Marcott Thottunkal updated and revised earlier versions of this post, which ran in November 2010 and 2011.

The US Department of Agriculture’s annual report on household food security was released in September. On average, during the last three years (2009-2011), 14.7 percent of Oklahomans struggled with food insecurity, a 1.7 percent drop from last year’s report (2008-2010). That means 1 in 7 people did not have “access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Oklahoma’s 14.7 percent was the same as the national average, and ranked 19th highest among all states.

The report also ranked Oklahoma 3rd nationally for the number of residents who experienced very low food insecurity. In other words, 7 percent, or 1 in 14 Oklahomans, saw “their food intake reduced and their eating patterns disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.”

Given that Oklahoma’s population is 3.79 million, and assuming that households experiencing food insecurity are the same size as the average of all households, approximately 530, 811 Oklahomans live in households that struggle with access to adequate amounts of food. Furthermore, 75,830 Oklahomans went through one or more time periods of severe food disruption.

Imagine that all of these families, who struggle with food insecurity, were invited to the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, on a Friday night, for a Thunder basketball game.

Chesapeake would have to build 28 more arenas to hold all food insecure Oklahomans (capacity during a basketball game = 18,203)

To find out ways to help fight hunger and food insecurity in Oklahoma, contact the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma or the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

May everyone have a joyful and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. 

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