New Study Shows High Rates of Children Living at Risk of Hunger in Every County in the Nation

August 25, 2011

The nation's largest hunger relief organization, Feeding America, today released a new study which reveals that children are struggling with hunger in every county and congressional district in America.

"Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011" shows that rates of child food insecurity range from a low of seven percent, in Steele County, North Dakota; to highs of more than 50 percent in Zavala and Starr Counties, which are both in Texas.

"The prevalence and consequences of our nation's child food insecurity problem are well documented, but our efforts to adequately address the problem have been hindered by a lack of data at the local level," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America."This new information addresses this need by providing first-ever data about the prevalence of child food insecurity (CFI) at the county and congressional district level."

Among the key findings of the report are:

  • There are 314 counties in the U.S. where approximately one-third of children are struggling with food insecurity.
  • There are 19 counties where more than 100,000 children are food insecure; three of which have more than 300,000 food insecure children
  • Four states–Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama–have over 30 percent of their counties in the top 10 percent of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation.
  • A significant proportion of food insecure children are likely not eligible for federal child nutrition programs because they live in a household with income over the threshold to qualify.

An executive summary of the report can be found at: feedingamerica.org/mapthegap/childsummary

"This study is a groundbreaking tool because it provides critical information for developing strategies to alleviate child hunger. For example, households living above 185% of the federal poverty line typically are not eligible for federal child nutrition programs like reduced-price school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)," Escarra said."These children have few options for obtaining food assistance outside of Feeding America or other charitable food programs."

By providing additional details about the face of CFI at the county level,"Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011" will enable food banks, the community based agencies they serve and policy makers to redefine approaches in addressing needs of hungry children and their families and develop more effective policy solutions.

This research is supported by ConAgra Foods Foundation. The ConAgra Foods Foundation funded this research with the goal of advancing the collective understanding of child hunger in America, so that resources at the local and national level could be better leveraged to help children and families in need.

The research is based on"Map the Meal Gap 2011: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level", supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.

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