Child Food Insecurity Exists In America's Most Affluent Communities
Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today released a new study, Map the Meal Gap 2015, which finds that food insecurity exists in every county and congressional district in the nation.
Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
This is the fifth year the local data on food insecurity have been compiled.
There are eight counties in the nation with median household incomes above $100,000, yet each of these counties have child food-insecurity rates above 10%. This includes four counties in Virginia: Falls Church City, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun. In fact, Loudoun is the wealthiest county in the U.S. with a median household income of $122,000, but is also home to more than 10,000 food-insecure children.
Other affluent counties with notable rates of child food insecurity are:
- Howard County, Maryland, where the median household income is $110,000, yet 15% of its children – more than 11,000 – are food insecure.
- Los Alamos County, New Mexico has a total population of 18,000 people with a median household income of $107,000, yet nearly 18% of its children – nearly 800 – are food insecure.
- Douglas County, Colorado has a median household income of $102,000, yet nearly 15% of its children – more than 13,000 – are food insecure.
Other key findings from the report include:
Food Insecurity at the County Level
- The county with the highest rate of food insecurity in America is Holmes County, Mississippi, where a third of the population, 33.4%, is food insecure.
- Los Angeles County is home to the largest estimated population of food-insecure people – nearly 1.5 million – a 14.7% food-insecurity rate.
- Slope County, North Dakota has the lowest rate of food insecurity of any county in the nation at 4.2%.
Food Insecurity among Children at the County Level
- Child food insecurity exists in every county where there are children, ranging from 6.2% in Billings County, North Dakota to 43% in Apache County, Arizona, home to Navaho Nation, Fort Apache and Zuni American Indian reservations.
- The largest estimated population of food-insecure children is Los Angeles County. Nearly 600,000 children, 1 in 4, live at risk of hunger.
- There are more than 400,000 food-insecure children across the five boroughs of New York City.
- The report finds that hunger disproportionately affects counties where the majority of the population is black or American Indian.
- The report also finds that some of the counties with the most abundant farm lands that produce millions of pounds of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products also have many families with children at risk of hunger. Fresno, Imperial, Kings, Merced, Monterey and Tulare counties in California all have a higher than average child food-insecurity rate and are also among the top 10 agricultural producers. All six counties have a majority Latino population.
Local Meal Cost and Food Budget Shortfall
- In addition to rates of food insecurity, Map the Meal Gap 2015 estimates the relative cost of an average meal by county.
- The lowest meal cost is $1.97 in Maverick County, Texas.
- The highest meal cost is $5.01 in Crook County, Oregon.
- The meal-cost data demonstrates that 26.4 million food-insecure people live in areas where food costs are higher than the national average.
- The food price data and analysis was provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights.
- The report estimates that food-insecure American households have a total "food budget shortfall" of $24.2 billion, compared to $23.5 billion in last year's report, an increase of $700 million.
Food Insecurity at the Congressional District Level
Highest Rates for Overall Food Insecurity (Child Food-Insecurity Rates provided for additional information)
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.