To compile our ranking, we assigned points for each state, plus the District of Columbia, based on how it performed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranking of hunger, with 51 points for the worst state, Mississippi, and 1 point for the best state, North Dakota. We then made the same assignments based on Census calculations of the median family income in each state.
In order to determine which states have a disproportionate hunger problem, versus those that are merely poor, we then squared their hunger points and divided by the poverty points. The result was a list diverse in incomes, region, and political leaning, but uniform in one regard: The top offenders all fail to properly feed people in relation to the wealth they generate. More than states that are merely poor (Kentucky ranked 48th for poverty, yet was solidly in the middle of the pack for hunger), these are the states with clear policy issues that render them unable to translate resources into full bellies.
Here is the complete ranking, beginning with Colorado, the state with the most disproportionate hunger problem, and ending with North Dakota, the state doing the best job of feeding its population:
1. Colorado 2. Alaska 3. Oregon 4. Connecticut 5. Utah 6. Nevada 7. Vermont 8. Maine 9. Missouri 10. Oklahoma 11. Texas 12. Georgia 13. Ohio 14. Washington 15. Mississippi 16. Iowa 17. Alabama 18. California 19. Kansas 20. Arizona 21. Arkansas 22. South Carolina 23. Florida 24. Michigan 25. New Mexico 26. Rhode Island 27. Tennessee 28. District of Columbia 29. Maryland 30. Minnesota 31. New York 32. Montana 33. West Virginia 34. North Carolina 35. Kentucky 36. Pennsylvania 37. Illinois 38. New Hampshire 39. Indiana 40. Massachusetts 41. South Dakota 42. New Jersey 43. Nebraska 44. Delaware 45. Wisconsin 46. Idaho 47. Virginia 48. Louisiana 49. Hawaii 50. Wyoming 51. North Dakota