Map the Meal Gap 2018, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level, was released this month. Map the Meal Gap 2018 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Second Harvest’s service area. Additionally, 47% of residents of Second Harvest who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements just as Congress looks at further restricting eligibility for these programs through the Farm Bill. Overall food insecurity in Second Harvest’s ranges from a low of 12.9% of the population in Huron County up to 14.3% in Crawford County. Lorain County has the largest population overall and has a 13.2% food insecurity rate.
The Child food insecurity rate in the four-county area is 20.5%, which means that 22,390 children are struggling with hunger. Thirty per cent of those children are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under the current program requirements.
“While our core work is food distribution, we have to be a voice for those families we serve.” says Julie Chase-Morefield, President & CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “SNAP is a cornerstone federal program helping hardworking families during difficult times and helps families make ends meet by stretching their grocery budgets. Yet, nearly half of those people who are food insecure are ineligible for SNAP benefits and must rely only on services that we provide.”
Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. Each month Second Harvest serves nearly 49,344 meals each month to those struggling with hunger through their partner charities.
“The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks works hard to deliver more than 4 billion meals annually to people facing hunger, yet the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves 12 meals for every one meal provided through our network,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “As Congress debates legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill, programs like SNAP must be protected and strengthened so that people facing hunger and trying to make ends meet have the essential food resources they need.” Map the Meal Gap 2018 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen. Key local findings:
* One out of every 7.5 people in the four-county service area is food insecure. Out of those people only 53% are likely to be eligible for federal nutrition assistance under the current system.* One out of every five children in the Second Harvest service area is food insecure. Thirty percent of those children are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under the current system.
The study’s findings underscore the depth of need that remains in communities in the area served by Second Harvest and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement. Food insecurity is a measure defined by the USDA as lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group is the lead researcher of Map the Meal Gap 2018.
The Map the Meal Gap 2018 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level. A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.
Director of External Affairs