Friday, April 27, 2012

Map the Meal Gap research released today

MarketWatch, Map the Meal Gap 2012 Documents the Continued Pervasiveness of People at Risk of Hunger in Every County in the U.S.
April 27, 2012

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today released “Map the Meal Gap 2012,” which provides estimates of food insecurity at the county and congressional district level. Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

The report found that even though food insecurity rates have remained relatively stable across the nation, those communities that were previously known to have the highest rates of food insecurity have continued to climb. There are 75 counties in the U.S. that had statistically significant increases in food insecurity rates. For example, in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, the rate of food insecurity rose from 23 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2010. Tensas Parish County is on the boarder of Mississippi and has a poverty rate of 32 percent and an unemployment rate of 15 percent.

In addition to rates of food insecurity, “Map the Meal Gap 2012” estimates the relative cost of a meal by county, showing a range in meal cost as low as $1.80 in Zavala, Texas and as high as $5.51 in Union, South Dakota. The national cost per meal that food secure people report spending on an average meal is $2.52. This illuminates the challenges faced by people at risk of hunger in the many counties where food prices are high. 
The findings were released at a press conference in Washington, D.C and can be viewed here. This is the second year the data has been compiled.

“Map the Meal Gap 2012” is based on an analysis of statistics collected by 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 (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen. The lead researcher is Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.

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