New nation-wide research shows a link between lack of consistent food access and poverty.Â According to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana food insecurity remains high in Lake and Porter Counties.Â Citing data released Monday in the annual "Map the Gap" study, 15.8 percent of the population are food insecure including 34,190 children.Â
Map the Meal Gap 2014 is a detailed analysis of food insecurity done by Feeding America and the only study available that provides county–level estimates of food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a socioeconomic condition of limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
“Studies like Map the Meal Gap 2014 allow the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana to continue to evaluate and adjust to the need in our area,” said Arleen Peterson, Executive Director of the Food Bank. “The research data includes weekly food-budget shortfalls, demographics and poverty levels which help us define the social issues plaguing our area and work together as a community to find a solution.”
The information is provided in an interactive map that allows viewers to find out how widespread hunger is in their community. The map can be found at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
Other local key findings:
Over 104,000 people are going hungry at some point during the year in the two counties.
35% of those going hungry do not qualify for any kind of government assistance.
The total number of meals the Food Bank would have to provide in order to cover those going hungry for only one year is 18,217,700.
Research for the study was generously supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen.
“Hunger is a pervasive and solvable problem plaguing every corner of America today,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “By continuing to provide extensive and revealing data like the 2014 Map the Meal Gap study, we will be able to tackle these issues head-on and be armed with the information needed to work towards making sure everyone has enough to eat.”
The Map the Meal Gap 2014 analysis was developed by Dr. Craig Gundersen for Feeding America. Food-insecurity rates are based on a state-level model that allows for the population in need of food at the county and congressional district level. Additionally, Feeding America worked in collaboration with Nielsen to arrive at estimates for food-cost variation by county. Results were reviewed by the Feeding America Technical Advisory Group in order to ensure accuracy and promote transparency.
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is located in Gary and supplies food to almost 100 pantries and soup kitchens in Lake and Porter Counties. In addition to distributing food to their member agencies the Food Bank also runs the BackPack, Kid’s Café, Food Rescue, HOPE Project, Summer Feeding, Family Food Nights, and Pantry on the Go programs and offers pantry referrals. Last year the Food Bank distributed over 5 million pounds of food, and served over 5,000 individuals a week.