Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Map the Meal Gap 2017 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley’s service area. Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 14.6 percent of the population in Columbiana County up to 16.5 percent in Mahoning County. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14%.
The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs. Food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $16.16 per person each week, up from $15.20 last year.
Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank distributed a record 10.5 million pounds of food in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. “With more than 87,000 food insecure people in the Mahoning Valley, the Food Bank will continue its work with national and local donors to secure more food and funds to help meet this ever-growing need,” said Michael Iberis, executive director, Second Harvest Food Bank.
Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. Each week, Second Harvest fills nearly 15,000 requests for food assistance in the tri-county area.
“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly 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 Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”
Map the Meal Gap 2017 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 (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.
Key local findings:
- 87,350 people in the Mahoning Valley are food insecure.
- 27,760 children in the Mahoning Valley live in food insecure households.
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 2017.
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.