Vanderbilt policy center finds food insecurity persists in Tennessee's children

Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / Red Bank resident Sam Snyder moves a pallet of sweet potatoes in the refrigerated area of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank on Friday.

A recent child health survey found that 1 in 3 Tennessee families experienced food insecurity in 2021, with nearly half of families receiving support from a food assistance program.

The annual Tennessee child health survey conducted by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy surveyed 1,000 parents across the state.

By region, 48% of east Tennesseans reported using a food assistance program, compared to 40% of Middle Tennessee and 46% of West Tennessee.

(READ MORE: Food insecurity grows in the Chattanooga area as food and fuel costs rise)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as "a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life" and a lack of financial resources for food at the family level.

The survey results also evaluated how food insecurity affects families of color.