Study looks at food insecurity, grocery costs for a family of four

Aug 2, 2013

A new study shows that families living at or below the federal poverty line need assistance from food pantries to be able to feed their household.

The study was done by Creighton University Occupational Therapy students. They wanted to know if a family of four who live on $23,550 or less per year could buy enough food to feed the household for a month. A week’s worth of food provided to families by Heartland Hope Mission was used to determine cost.

Researchers split the area in to 12 districts that included Omaha, Papillion, Bellevue, and Council Bluffs. Chelsea Hardymon, executive director of Heartland Hope Mission, says of the 12 districts, three were classified as “food deserts.”

"So they weren’t even able to determine the cost in that area because there were no grocery stores available. Outside of that, though, they were able to determine that a family would not be able to survive. Their total food cost for a month for a family of four was about 648 dollars."

Hardymon says a family’s food budget should be 10 to 15 percent of their monthly income. But for families at or below the poverty line, she says the cost of food is 34 percent of their monthly income, leaving little room to buy other essential items.