Some things to think about concerning Virginia, hunger, and ag.

The current population is estimated at 8.57 million, an increase of over 380,000 since the official census in 2010. Virginia currently enjoys a growth rate of 1.15%, which ranks 13th in the country. 2020 projected population is 8,626,207. Virginia has higher rates of food insecurity in rural areas for reported households however, I believe these numbers are skewed lower than the actual count in urban areas such as Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Northern Virginia because of failure to accurately assess the homeless and transient population in the areas which we serve.

Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average in 2018 for the following groups:

• All households with children (13.9 percent)

• Households with children under age 6 (14.3 percent)

• Households with children headed by a single woman (27.8 percent) or a single man (15.9 percent) and other households with children (21.1 percent)

• Women living alone (14.2 percent) and men living alone (12.5 percent)

• Households with Black, non-Hispanic (21.2 percent) and Hispanic (16.2 percent) heads of household

• Households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (29.1 percent).

Virginia Area and Population Density

The US state of Virginia is situated on the central eastern tip of the country and it is the 35th largest in the Union in terms of land mass. As with the majority of states on the US Eastern seaboard, however, Virginia is densely populated. The population has soared to an estimated 8.57 million as of 2019, and Virginia now ranks 12th in terms of population in the country and 14th in terms of density. Virginia has a population density of 202.6 people per square mile over a total surface area of 42,775 square miles.

The Population is diverse and has a large immigrant population haling from all over the world. Many live and work in the area given the proximity to the nation’s capitol.

Agriculture in Virginia

Virginia still has nearly 450 farms per county, only a small portion of these farms provide their owners with income. In fact, according to the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture, over two thirds of Virginia farmers are losing money. Virginia’s fertile areas and farming legacy can be effectively leveraged to end hunger in the State.

Many of these farms are supported by the owners keeping full or part time off farm jobs. They struggle with marketing effectively, inability to compete with cheap subsidized highly processed foods, and the ever widening wealth gap making their products financially out of reach for many. If current trends are not reversed by policy decisions, and societal changes we may be facing the extinction of the family farmer as we know it. 

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