Food prices are something that influence the quality of life for everyone, no matter what part of the country you live in. They can be determined by a huge variety of factors and can change on an hour-to-hour, minute-by-minute basis in response to major world events, market shifts, and even weather forecasts. Over the past several years, food prices have been a major point of concern for many Americans, particularly as the economy took a nosedive after the financial crisis, and families were forced to tighten their belts more than ever before.
There is plenty of concern over the future of food prices in America right now, with lots of sound reasoning behind it. Most of the western United States is experiencing a once-in-a-generation drought of epic proportions, which is most certainly going to have an effect on food prices nationwide. Events like the current drought, along with the changes it causes on supply lines, increased transportation costs, and destruction of livestock and farmland, all play a pivotal part in determining food prices.
There are also aspects to the economic health of certain states, including levels of food insecurity and dependence on food stamps that can shed some light into the true cost of food across the country. Taxpayer funding goes directly to millions of underserved and hungry citizens every year in areas where poverty is prevalent, essentially making those areas more costly than others. Many of the same areas suffer from high levels of food insecurity, which has to do with availability of food in a given area.
Some areas suffer from high levels of food insecurity for different reasons, like remoteness or the fact that it may be difficult to make deliveries to grocery stores. This comes with increased transportation costs, which require, many times, subsidization on some level. Food insecurity levels have been found to be closely linked to food prices, as one might expect from a scarcity perspective.
We’re taking a look at the eight states that have the highest food costs. This doesn’t necessarily mean the highest prices per se, as prices can fluctuate wildly in an immediate neighborhood, let alone across several time zones. It’s quite obvious that a box of Oreos would cost more in Nome, Alaska, than Fort Collins, Colorado. In order to gauge the rankings, we took a look at several different things. Among them was levels of food insecurity from Feeding America, which also provided an average cost per meal calculation. The usage of SNAP benefits, or food stamps, was also taken into account. Food prices and taxes were the final big contributor, and general proximity to major agricultural centers, as well.
Here are the top eight states in the United States with the highest food costs, as calculated from the above criteria.