Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today released a landmark study, “Map the Meal Gap,” providing insight for the first time about the number of meals missing from the tables of American families struggling with hunger each year – an estimated 8.4 billion nationwide.
The findings of “Map the Meal Gap” are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and food price data and analysis provided by The Nielsen Company (NYSE: NLSN), a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy.
According to U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey data, people struggling with hunger estimate they would need about $56 more each month on average during the months that they are food insecure to address the shortages in their food budget. On a national level, “Map the Meal Gap” shows this shortfall represents an estimated $21.3 billion on an annual basis.
Of the top 50 counties with the largest number of food insecure people, half are majority-white
counties, one in four are at least one-third Hispanic and one in eight have at least one-third African
American residents. It is well-documented that some racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., including American Indians, African Americans and Latinos, are disproportionately at risk for food insecurity.
Of the 70 counties in the United States that have majority Latino populations, more than one-in-four have food insecurity rates which place them in the group of the highest food insecurity rate counties.
These counties have substantially higher poverty and unemployment rates when compared to the rest
of the nation and slightly higher rates than African American high food insecurity counties. The average
of 2009 poverty rates in these high food insecurity rate, majority Hispanic counties is 32% (compared to 29% for high food insecurity rate, majority African American counties, and 15% for all U.S. counties) and the unemployment rate is 14% (versus 13% for high food insecurity rate, majority African Americancounties, and 9% for all U.S. counties).