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Tamara Sandberg addresses the Farms to Food Banks rally in February.

Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, addresses the Farms to Food Banks rally in February in the state capitol. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)

 

 

'Map the Meal Gap 2015' study indicates food insecurity hits close to home

 

Special to Kentucky Agricultural News

 

BEREA, Ky. - The Kentucky Association of Food Banks announced the release of the annual Map the Meal Gap study, which details the startling rate of food insecurity experienced by residents of Kentucky. "Map the Meal Gap 2015" results reveal that food insecurity affects the most vulnerable populations in Kentucky, including 22 percent of the state’s children.

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.

“Members of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks are constantly working to provide up-to-date solutions for the struggling families that we serve,” said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. “Findings from 'Map the Meal Gap 2015' help hunger-relief organizations better quantify the economic issues that so many of our neighbors deal with. This report reveals that, in 117 of the 120 Kentucky counties, there are at least some food-insecure individuals whose level of income prevents them from qualifying for federal nutrition assistance.”

Other local key findings:

  • The “Food Budget Shortfall” – the additional dollars food-insecure Kentuckians report needing to meet their food needs – was $324,612,000.
  • Harlan County has the highest food insecurity rate in the state, at 23.4 percent. Oldham County has the lowest food insecurity rate in the state, at 9.9 percent.
  • The 5th Congressional District has the highest food insecurity rate of Kentucky’s congressional districts, at 18.9 percent.
  • Children are at a higher risk of food insecurity. Fourteen Kentucky counties have childhood insecurity rates of 30 percent or higher: Wolfe (35.4 percent); Lee (34.3 percent); Martin (34.1 percent); Jackson (33.6 percent); Harlan (33.4 percent); Clay (33.2 percent); Bell (33.1 percent); Knox (32.4 percent); Magoffin (32.3 percent); Breathitt (31.4 percent); Letcher (31.2 percent); Menifee (31.0 percent); Floyd (30.2 percent); and Lewis (30.1 percent).

 

Map the Meal Gap 2015 is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity. An interactive map is available that allows viewers to explore the issue of hunger in Kentucky and across the country. The map can be found at map.feedingamerica.org.

“Map the Meal Gap 2015 provides unique insight into the prevalence of food insecurity in each county and congressional district in our nation,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “It will help policy makers and our elected officials understand the challenges they face in addressing hunger in the communities they serve.”

 

The study is supported by the Founding Sponsor Howard G. Buffett Foundation as well as the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The food price data and analysis was provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. 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.

County and congressional district food-insecurity details and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.