Each year, Michael D. Gillespie, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology at Eastern Illinois University releases his preliminary analysis on poverty and food insecurity in Coles County.
According to Gillespie, “In December, the U.S. Census Bureau releases the latest poverty data estimates which include the most detailed and reliable projections for Coles County. These estimates use a 5-year average (for example this year includes 2012-2016) because of the low population size in the county; this method ensures that the estimates are as reliable and valid as possible.”
Gillespie stated, “Based on the estimates, from 2016 to 2017, the percent of the population living in poverty has decreased from 22.3% to 21.9%. However, at the family level, poverty has increased by 0.7 percentage points from 13.9% to 14.5%; for families with children, the percent living in poverty jumped to 24.1% in 2017 from 23.8% in 2016. Over the past year, therefore, families – and especially those with children – are more impoverished than recent years. While at the individual level poverty has decreased, for families, there is a serious cause for concern.”
“Looking at food insecurity, the percent of the population at risk has increased for individuals, families, and families with children. 41.3 % of individuals are at-risk of not having an adequately nutritious supply of food; this is an increase from 40.6% just one year ago. For families, and most alarming for families with children, the increases are stark. For all families, 30.4% are at-risk of food insecurity – the first time this has been over 30% in recent years. For families with children, 46.5% – nearly one-half – are at-risk of not know from where their next meal may come. This increase, from 44.6% in 2016 to 46.5% in 2017 is nearly two percentage points and again the highest level in recent years,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie added, “For families and individuals at-risk of food insecurity, they may be one health issue, transportation issue, or other unexpected life matter away from not having enough food for a nutritionally adequate diet. They are, in many facets, the most vulnerable population in the county.”