MIAMI (CBS4) – A new study claims that nearly 30 percent of all South Florida families with children are going hungry, finding themselves without the money needed to buy food at times during the last 12 months. That places South Florida 12th on a nationwide list of areas with the worst food hardship.

The study Food Hardship In America was produced by the Food Research and Action Center using nationwide data provided by Gallup, and covers 2009-2010. A coalition of Florida hunger agencies released the Florida numbers Thursday.

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The numbers claim to show that South Florida has a high rate of people who can’t afford to buy all of the food they need.

““These new data reaffirm what we’re seeing in our communities – that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these economic times,” said Debra Susie, Executive Director for Florida Impact. She believes more needs to be done to better use shrinking governmental funding for food relief programs, such as Farm Share, which recently lost significant state funding.

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In some parts of South Florida, the numbers are even more concerning. The study broke down the families facing hardship by congressional district, and found that in US Representative Frederica Wilson’s 17th congressional district, as many as half of the families with children reported they couldn’t purchase all of the food they need.

“These data merely underscore what every Member of Congress should know already — that his or her district has tens of thousands of households struggling with hunger or food insecurity,” said FRAC President Jim Weill, in a statement released by Florida Impact.

While the news was bad for South Florida, other parts of the state actually fared worse. The Lakeland area in Central Florida tides for second nationally in the food hardship ranking, with almost 35 percent of families reporting some hardship. One the list of the 100 municipal areas surveyed for hardship, 5 other Florida areas were included.

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  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 27.7 percent (tied for 20th)
  • Jacksonville, 27.6 percent (tied for 22nd)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, 26.8 percent (tied for 28th)
  • Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, 24.9 percent (ranked 41st)
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, 22.0 percent (ranked 67th)

The full study can be found here (PDF).