Will Oklahoma Face Prolonged Food Shortages?

Toni Koraza

Photo by Daniel Case

It may sound surprising to some, but Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in America.

The outbreak of COVID-19 that has lasted for the past two years has worsened food shortages. Oklahoma isn’t the only place that has been affected by food deserts, but the food insecurity crisis is only continuing.

Food-supply problems in Oklahoma

Oklahoma currently has some of the highest-rated food insecurities in America and shares this problem with nine other states. The food insecurity rate in Oklahoma in 2021 was 14.7 percent. To put this number into perspective, that’s about 583 thousand people facing hunger in Oklahoma alone.

This food insecurity is largely due to food shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has lasted much longer than originally predicted. Even though the initial panic has worn off, it still affects many areas of everyday life, including supply chains and food distributors.

In addition to COVID-19, farmers warn of a coming food shortage epidemic caused by “higher prices on seeds, fertilizer, and fuel, and supply chain issues.” A food shortage could lead to higher rates of food insecurity and higher food prices.

Food prices have dramatically changed

Over the past several years, food prices have risen tremendously.

General inflation has a small part to play, but the drastic change in food prices is mostly due to COVID-19, which has caused supply chain issues, delayed crops, and labor cost disruptions. The current war between Ukraine and Russia has also impacted the US food supply.

Even just inflation in the United States is raising food prices. The average household’s food costs were 3.5 percent higher in 2021 than they were in 2020. This is a 75 percent higher increase than in past years, with the price of meat and fish rising the most. Because of higher prices and more demand than the food supply can handle, it’s difficult to see an end to the struggle for food security in Oklahoma and other states.

Are you worried about the food supply in Oklahoma?

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