STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project recently launched a new website that can shed light on the factors that lead to food insecurity in Mississippi.
A cooperative effort of Mississippi State’s Department of Sociology and the university’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, the MFIP website provides current USDA food insecurity data for all 82 counties in Mississippi, along with related socioeconomic factors, food assistance data, local food activities, food store availability, and health data. The website also features an interactive map that allows for easy scanning of this information.
“It’s a really great website because it has hundreds of variables that people can explore,” said Leslie Hossfeld, MFIP director, lead principal investigator and sociology department head at MSU.
The MFIP began in August 2015 to document and examine food access and food insecurity in Mississippi. MFIP also provides research briefs, policy initiatives, and qualitative and quantitative research reports that document and examine food insecurity from the perspective of service providers and food insecure residents throughout the state.
MFIP’s next goal is to develop a companion website that beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can use to easily locate grocery stores and markets that accept SNAP benefits. In the meantime, the MFIP website will be an important tool for researchers to investigate the causes of food insecurity and develop practical solutions for people facing this problem.
Food insecurity, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a lack of access to enough food to be healthy and active. This issue is of particular importance in Mississippi, which has the nation’s highest food insecurity rate at 22 percent.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum has made food security issues a university research priority during his tenure at the university.
NSPARC is MSU’s nationally recognized center for creating technology and solutions powered by data science in the fields of workforce, education, economic development and human services. For more information about NSPARC, visit www.nsparc.msstate.edu.
The Department of Sociology is a Ph.D. granting research department in MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, and its members also carry out research and service through the university’s MFIP, Social Science Research Center, NSPARC, Southern Rural Development Center, Crime and Justice Research Unit, as well as other research entities. The department has longstanding emphases in rural sociology, community development, criminology, social demography and social inequality.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.