Last week Feeding America released the annual Map the Meal Gap Study featuring an interactive map of food insecurity levels based on the most recent U.S. Census data (2014). Food insecurity -- or more simply put not knowing where your next meal is coming from -- exists in every county, state and congressional district across our country.
Unfortunately food insecurity isn’t just about food -- it directly impacts the health of families in our communities with higher incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes. But it also affects the futures of 1 out of 4 children in our communities hampering their ability to grow and thrive.
Facts from Map the Meal Gap for Crawford, Erie, Huron and Lorain Counties:
• 69,500 people are considered food insecure in the 4-county region, 37% are children under 18.
• 5.7% of the population (36,203 people) have incomes below 130% of the poverty level ($15,312 per year for a single person).
• Average cost of a meal in our region is $2.65. The average cost of a month of meals for one person is $246.
Not everyone struggling with hunger qualifies for federal nutrition assistance, in fact for more the 25,000 people, the only avenue for help is through one of Second Harvest’s network of Partner Charities.
The Map the Meal Gap study offers a quantifiable, data-driven approach to this issue, providing county-level information critical to understanding the nature and extent of food insecurity in our region. Although the need remains high, we remain committed to foster strong partners on this journey to work together strategically towards a solution.
Take some time to review the study and broaden your own awareness and understanding of food insecurity. What can you do to be part of the solution - volunteer time, talent or treasure at Second Harvest, advocate for policy changes, help at one of the many partner charities across the region or sharing your own personal story.
We fundamentally believe everyone deserves a place at the table and that each of us has a role in making it a reality – what’s yours?
Julie Chase-Morefield is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.