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Harvesters—The Community Food Network announces the release of Map the Meal Gap 2019, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. It is the only study that provides food insecurity data at the local level.
Map the Meal Gap 2019 reveals food insecurity exists in every county in Harvesters’ service area. It also shows children are more likely to be food insecure, with the child food insecurity rate at 17 percent compared to 13.3 percenter for the overall population for Harvesters’ service area.
“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger, and it is within our collective power to change that and ensure that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America. “The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is investing in our nation’s future by helping to provide over 146 million meals to children every year. Still, Map the Meal Gap highlights that more must be done. Together food banks, corporations, policymakers, donors, volunteers and advocates can solve hunger.”
“I encourage everyone to visit the website, map.feedingamerica.org to find out what hunger looks like in their community and get involved to be part of the solution,” Babineaux-Fontenot continued. “One way is to tell Congress to invest in kids during Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation and increase access to food for kids during the summer. Your voice matters and we can make a difference.”
Overall food insecurity in Harvesters’ Kansas service area counties ranges from a low of 9.7 percent of the population in Wabaunsee County, Kan. up to 17.5 percent in Riley County, Kan. Overall food insecurity in Harvesters’ Missouri service area counties ranges from a low of 10.7 percent of the population in Cass County, Mo. up to 16.2 percent in Jackson County, Mo.
The analysis also finds that 40.6 percent of residents in Harvesters’ service area who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements. This means that many households must rely even more on charitable food assistance from the more than 760 network partner agencies of Harvesters.
“It is disheartening to realize that thousands of children, seniors and hardworking, low-income adults in Kansas and Missouri continue to find it difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Valerie Nicholson-Watson, President and CEO of Harvesters. “This annual study by Feeding America underscores the importance of charitable food assistance programs provided by Harvesters and its network of partner agencies, as well as the need for strong federal nutrition programs.”
Harvesters serves a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas, and provides food and related household products to more than 760 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, shelters and others. Agencies in Harvesters’ network provide food assistance to as many as 141,500 different people each month.
Map the Meal Gap 2019 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:
Across the 26-counties Harvesters’ serves, 1 in 8, or 341,080 people are food insecure, which means they may have a meal today, but do not know if their family will have food tomorrow.
The new data shows hunger continues to be a problem in every county Harvesters serves, and that hungry people can be found everywhere – in rural, suburban and urban communities.
Hunger rates are higher for children (17 percent versus 13.3 percent for general population).
The study’s findings underscore the extent of need that remains in communities in Harvesters’ service area and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement.
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 2019.
This is the ninth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.
The Map the Meal Gap 2019 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and 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.