Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project provides information about hunger in communities across the United States. The project, funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, The Nielsen Company and ConAgra Foods Foundation, details food insecurity in different regions of the U.S.
The map is based on the most recent available data, published by the USDA in 2012.
According to the research, across the nation, 48,966,000 people—15.9 percent of the U.S. population—are food insecure, meaning that they struggled to obtain an adequate amount of food due to a lack of resources. Map the Meal Gap also tracks how food security and poverty relate at the regional level—using food stamps as the poverty threshold. The most insecure counties tend to be located in impoverished rural areas, rather than in metropolitan communities. The state with the highest rate of food insecurity is New Mexico.
Map the Meal Gap has found that children are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity. While the national rate of food insecurity is 15.9 percent, for children the rate is 21.6 percent.
Feeding America hopes that the map will help policymakers and food banks better understand hunger at the community level and help them identify strategies for reaching people who are most in need of food assistance.