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Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today released "Map the Meal Gap 2013," which provides estimates of food insecurity at the county and congressional district level. Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measure of the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
The report finds that food insecurity exists in virtually every county and congressional district in the nation. Other findings include:
- Holmes County, Mississippi is the county with the highest rate of food insecurity, 35.2%; Slope County, North Dakota has the lowest rate of food insecurity, 2.4%.
- Loudoun County, Virginia has one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, yet nearly 17,000 of its residents are food insecure.
- The nation's poorest state, Mississippi, has eight counties among the"top ten" most food insecure counties in the nation. Roughly, one in three residents in those counties faces hunger.
- Los Angeles has the most food insecure children of any county, with more than 650,000 children living in food insecure homes.
In addition to rates of food insecurity,"Map the Meal Gap 2013" estimates the relative cost of a meal by county, showing a range in meal cost as low as $1.85 in Maverick County, Texas to as high as $4.37 in Leelanau County, Michigan in the continental United States. Food secure individuals in the U.S. report spending an average $2.67 per meal.
"Map the Meal Gap 2013" provides the following data for each county in the United States in an interactive map format:
- The percentage of the population, adult and child, that is food insecure.
- The percentage of the food insecure population that likely qualifies based on income for SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and other federal nutrition programs.
- The percentage of the food insecure population that likely does NOT qualify for federal nutrition programs and often must rely on charitable food assistance programs.
- The average cost per meal in each county.
"Map the Meal Gap 2013" is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the USDA, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy. The study is supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Nielsen, and the ConAgra Foods Foundation. The lead researcher is Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois and member of Feeding America's Technical Advisory Group.
"Millions of Americans live at risk of hunger," said Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America."'Map the Meal Gap 2013' data help us understand how food insecurity is manifest in each county and congressional district in our nation. It will help policy makers and our elected officials understand the challenges they face in addressing hunger in the communities they serve."
"It wasn't until our partnership with Feeding America that I fully understood the prevalence of hunger in America. I have spent the last decade tackling global food insecurity, but always believed the United States' social safety net meant hunger was not a significant challenge in this country," said Howard Buffett, President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation."It took a number of eye-opening visits to local food banks and many conversations with people struggling to find their next meal to understand that hunger in America is a very real problem."
"The Map the Meal Gap research is one of a number of strategic investments we have made in partnership with Feeding America to better inform funding decisions and understand where needs are greatest," said Ann Rindone, director of Cause and Foundation at ConAgra Foods."We are proud of the work we have accomplished with Feeding America and are committed to continuing our fight against child hunger in the United States."
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
Join the conversation about"Map the Meal Gap 2013" on Twitter using #MealGap.
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