A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Iowa held steady at 11.5% for the number of people who had trouble getting enough food. Iowa Policy Project researchers, Andrew Cannon, says that’s good news, but doesn’t tell the whole story of what could be happening for people with “food insecurity.”

He says the data is for 2007 through 2009, which is right before Iowa was hit with the brunt of the recession, and he would not be surprised to see the number increase next year. But, he says it is good news that there were not significant increases in 2009. While the numbers haven’t gotten much worse in the latest report, they also haven’t gotten any better.

Cannon says the fact that the numbers didn’t change show it is a “chronic” problem in Iowa that has been a problem for a number of years. Cannon says the economic slowdown has likely hit more people than shown in the report. He says when the expense increase in a family budget, people cut back on food, medications and recreational spending.

Cannon says with some things like rent and food, there is only so much you can cut back on. Cannon says the “food insecurity” numbers are part of a bigger problem. Cannon says one of the underlying problems is that wages have stagnated for a couple of years while health insurance costs and housing costs have continued to rise. So he says something needs to be done to allow wages to keep up with increasing expenses.

Other midwestern food insecurity rates ranged from 10.5% in Minnesota to 15% in Missouri. Although Iowa’s rate remained statistically unchanged from ’07 to ’09, nearby states saw increases from 1.7% in South Dakota to 2.7% in Missouri and Nebraska.