Life Gets Harder for America’s Hungry

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Millions of hardworking Americans facing hunger are finding it increasingly difficult to afford enough food and groceries to feed themselves and their families, according to a new study released by Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. This is among many revelations on the state of hunger in America published in Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report on the cost of food and food insecurity at both the county and congressional district level in the United States.

The study finds that food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $527.19 per person per year. Even accounting for inflation, this is an increase of 13 percent since 2008, the first full year of the Great Recession. This rising measure of need suggests that people facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.

For The Food Depot’s service area, key findings of Map the Meal Gap 2017 are:

A total of 37,660 people are food insecure in The Food Depot’s nine county service area. The rate of food insecurity ranges from 9.9 percent of the population in Mora county to 15.7 percent in Taos county.

13,630 children are food insecure in the food bank’s service area – ranging from 18.7 percent in Los Alamos county to 28.3 percent in Taos county.

The Food Depot’s service area falls within Congressional District 3, which shows 116,300 people are food insecure – 42,110 are children.

Other national key findings of Map the Meal Gap 2017 are:

Food insecurity exists in every county in the nation, from a high of 38 percent in Jefferson County, Mississippi, to a low of 3 percent in Grant County, Kansas.

Children are at greater risk of hunger than the general population. Across all counties, 21 percent are food insecure, compared to 14 percent among the general population.

In 76 counties, a majority of food-insecure individuals are likely ineligible for most federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and free and reduced-priced school lunch programs, underscoring the importance of not only the charitable food assistance sector, but also a strong and effective safety net of public nutrition assistance programs. According to 2015 data from the USDA, 26 percent of food-insecure people likely do not qualify for such federal assistance.

An estimated 89 percent of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity — those that rank in the top 10 percent of all counties — are in the Southern United States.
76 percent of counties in the top 10 percent of food insecure counties are rural. Predominantly rural counties have higher rates of food insecurity than predominately urban counties.

For more information on Map the Meal Gap 2017, go to