Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Hungry is YOUR County?

Elaine Waxman, Feeding America's
Vice President for Research and Partnerships,
at the Map the Meal Gap press conference

  • Did you know that nationwide, over 50 million people aren't sure that they can obtain the food they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
  • Did you know that food insecurity exists in every county in the US, at rates from 5% to nearly 38% of residents.  
  • How about that the 5 counties that grow the most food also are among the hungriest, with food insecurity rates of more than 20%?
  • How about that the cost of food per person per meal for the USDA’s thrifty food plan varies in different counties from $1.87 to $4.42?

These, and many other facts, come from an extensive new study called Map the Meal Gap 2011.  This study by Feeding America was supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen CompanyCraig Gundersen of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana was the lead researcher.

We attended the press conference via video today to hear the announcement of the results.  The study’s aim is to provide regional data to help food banks and their member agencies determine how best to serve the clients in their areas.  As Howard G. Buffett said at the press conference, “When you have bad information, you make bad decisions.”  He wanted to help Feeding America have the best data possible, so those working on hunger relief could make good decisions.

From Feeding America's new study, Map the Meal Gap
The county food insecurity data for various income levels was estimated from state and county-wide unemployment, poverty, income levels and demographic data, along with state food insecurity data. The meal costs came from actual grocery store data in each county.

You can find YOUR state and county's food insecurity
rates on Feeding America's interactive map

We find it really impressive that this huge set of data is available in such an easy-to use form. It will be a powerful tool for all hunger-relief organizations, community leaders, and concerned citizens to identify what types of programs would best serve the needs of their communities.  Check it out to see where your county falls!



1 comment:

  1. A propos of an earlier post on farm workers... it's ironic to see the swath of high food insecurity in California's central valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country.