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New Alexandria report shows just 8% of residents are food insecure

A new study shows that 8% of Alexandria households are food insecure.

Last year’s Hunger Report from the Capital Area Food Bank showed one in three Alexandria households had difficulty in affording and finding healthy food.

CAFB’s survey was conducted last year and took into account the input of 3,679 residents of the D.C. Metro area.

Alexandria’s survey was conducted by the Department of Community and Human Services from Oct. 11 to Dec. 8, 2023, and got 245 responses. DCHS also used U.S. Census data, information from Alexandria City Public Schools, and researched unemployment benefits claims with the state, as well as from local food banks.

The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) reported last year that food insecurity in Alexandria was around 31%. This discrepancy is due to “differences in sampling methodology as there is no universal standard for calculating food insecurity,” according to the city’s new report.

There are about 155,000 people living in Alexandria, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to a city report:

Despite Alexandria’s reputation as an affluent community, there are many households in Alexandria struggling with food security. Recently, the Capital Area Food Bank’s 2022 Hunger Report estimated the prevalence of food insecurity in Alexandria as high as 31%. This rate was measured with a six-item short form of the USDA survey module conducted February-March 2022 with 3,769 adults aged 18 and older in the DC Metro Area. While this survey does not have the same breadth as the USDA survey or Map the Meal Gap, it makes clear that many households that may not be officially labeled as food insecure by government measures are still struggling to afford adequate food.

From food pantries and distributions across the city to delivering food to senior citizens, Alexandria offers a number of opportunities to get free food. The effort is part of an effort to develop a citywide food security strategic plan.

The new survey shows that 8% of Alexandria households receive SNAP benefits — the same percentage that are food insecure.

It also found that homelessness rose 27% in 2023, and that there are 152 people experiencing homelessness in Alexandria. That figure, however, is an undercount since only people living in shelters or on the streets were counted.

According to Alexandria’s 2024 Food Security Report:

  • 82% of residents surveyed reported experiencing low or very low food security
  • 79% of neighbors surveyed reported it was “often true” or “sometimes true” that they “couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals”
  • 8% of households in Alexandria are food insecure and 9% of Alexandria residents are living with resources below the federal poverty line
  • 44% individuals in Alexandria who are food insecure are not eligible for government assistance due to income. This, paired with age-related poverty rates, low unemployment, and low unhoused population, suggests that food insecurity in Alexandria is most likely attributed to the high cost of living
  • Four populations were identified in the research process as “under-resourced:” the unhoused, older adults, immigrants and non-English speakers, and the Latino/a/e/ community. These populations are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, and present specific challenges in providing access, such as knowledge of services, transportation, language barriers, lack of trust, and specific cultural and/or health needs

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