Map the Meal Gap
HUNGER REMAINS PREVALENT IN
NORTHEAST NORTH CAROLINA
New figures show more than 61,000 people in the Albemarle Region are at risk of hunger
61,390 people – or 19.9 percent of the population - in northeast North Carolina are food insecure, meaning that they don’t always know where they will find their next meal, according to new research released today by
, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
The findings result from Feeding America’s “ Map the Meal Gap ” study, which provides estimates on the rate of food insecurity at the county and congressional district level for the entire nation. Food Bank of the Albemarle is part of the Feeding America network.
"Food insecurity is one of the leading public health challenges in the United States due to the physical, mental damage and behavioral problems it may cause,” said Dr. Craig Gundersen, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group, and the lead researcher of the “Map the Meal Gap” study. “By ascertaining the extent and distribution of food insecurity at the county and congressional district level, we can better direct our resources to alleviating this serious problem."
The total number of food insecure people in the area has increased 2.7% since last year. As a percentage that sounds slight until you consider that it represents approximately 3,500 people. This is not an insignificant problem for these individuals who now find themselves in the position of not having adequate food for themselves and their families.
“Hunger is the reality that too many of our neighbors in northeast North Carolina continue to face,” said Liz Reasoner, Executive Director of the Food Bank of the Albemarle. “Hunger is enough of a problem in and of itself, but the additional issues that come with hunger - children who can’t concentrate at school, an undernourished workforce and people choosing between food and medicine- leave a broad footprint on our communities, particularly when we realize the true cost of not providing adequate food. Food Insecurity does have a long-term impact on a person’s health. We cannot create healthy productive communities without first feeding the body.”
The local trend is similar to what is being seen at the national level, according to the research. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the national food insecurity rate remained relatively unchanged from last year at 16.1 percent in 2010 – or nearly 49 million people nationwide.
The data also shows:
· The cost of an average meal in North Carolina is $2.51. Here in northeast North Carolina the cost of an average meal is $2.57.
· The cost of an average meal in the state of North Carolina is just under the national average of $2.52. However, in our region the cost of a meal is $0.05 higher than the national average.
· In our region, the average food insecure household would need an additional $979.72, annually, to put enough food on the table for an adequate diet.
The Map the Meal Gap study also accounted for food insecurity in children around our area. 24.3%, or 16,870 children under the age of 18 in northeast North Carolina do not have steady and predictable access to nutritional food. Children who deal with chronic hunger are sick more often, and have a harder time recovering from illness. They can also suffer the effects of mental and physical growth impairments, which lead to an unprepared and less competitive workforce in the future.
This is the second year that Feeding America has conducted the “Map the Meal Gap” study. The findings of "Map the Meal Gap" are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by The Nielsen Company (NYSE: NLSN), a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy. The study was supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.
"Map the Meal Gap" provides critical information—food insecurity rates for each county and congressional district. Prior to the study’s first release in March 2011, food insecurity data was only available at the state level in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report. The study further analyzes each county's food insecure population to determine their income eligibility for federal nutrition assistance, and also provides meal cost estimates for every county in the nation. This data has the potential to redefine the way service providers and policy makers address areas of need.
Map the Meal Gap is a yearly study that is conducted nationwide in order to gain knowledge of the prevalence of food insecurity in our communities. You can click here to see an interactive map showing the food insecurity data for your state or county.