Map the Meal Gap study reveals surprising details about hunger

A person holding a bag of apples.
August 29, 2022
by Alyssa Schukar

Every year, Feeding America conducts the Map the Meal Gap study to learn more about hunger at the local level. By better understanding communities and neighborhoods, food banks can identify and reach people most in need of food assistance.

The latest release examines the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of people were unable to work and struggled to find affordable food. While the food crisis in the United States is decades old, the pandemic exposed and worsened food insecurity, especially along racial and ethnic lines.

For the first time, this year’s study highlights these disparities among Black, Latino, white, Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native American communities. This helps us understand the way racism and structural oppression impact peoples’ ability to reliably access healthy food.

Here are 5 surprising facts about hunger in America from the new Map the Meal Gap study:

  1. Hunger is higher among Black and Latino individuals compared to white individuals in 99% of all counties, and the COVID-19 pandemic worsened these pre-existing disparities.
  2. Childhood food insecurity rates are staggering in some counties – many over 40 percent. Across the U.S., about 1 in 6 children experience hunger, but in some counties, like East Carrol Parish in Louisiana, half of all children are food insecure. 
  3. People facing hunger report needing $44 more per month to meet their food needs. That’s an additional $17.25 per week.
  4. The South is home to 80% of counties across the country with the highest rates of hunger. 1 in 5 counties in the South have high food insecurity compared to 1 in 22 in the West and 1 in 29 in the Midwest.
  5. One of every three people facing hunger are unlikely to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Now that you know what hunger in America looks like, learn how to get involved in your community and help us ensure everyone has the food they need to thrive.