African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment.  They are also more likely to receive emergency food assistance than their Latino and white, non-Hispanic peers. 

The Map the Meal Gap analyses demonstrate that unemployment is a major contributing factor to food insecurity.  Unemployment is significantly higher among African Americans than among white, non-Hispanics.

  • In 2012, African-Americans were approximately twice as likely to be unemployed (13.8%) as their white, non-Hispanic counterparts (7.2%). [i]

Food Insecurity
African American households are more than twice as likely to be food insecure as white, non-Hispanic households. Counties with majority African American populations are disproportionately represented among the top 10% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.

  • One in four (24.6%) African American households are food insecure as compared with one in 10 (11.2%) of Caucasian households and one in seven (14.5%) households overall.[ii]
  • Nearly one in three African American children (31.5%) live in food insecure households as compared one in six (16.9%) Caucasian children.[iii]
  • While the 104 counties in 2011 with a majority African American population represent only 3.3% of all U.S. counties, over 90% of African American majority counties fall into the top 10% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.[iv]
  • Five out of the 96 majority African American counties with the highest rates of food insecurity also fall into the top 10% of counties with the highest food cost index; the average cost per meal in these counties is $3.07, as compared with the national average of $2.67.[v]
  • Of the 10 counties with the highest food security rates in the nation, they are all at least 65% African American. Eight of these 10 counties are located in Mississippi.

Emergency Food Assistance
African American households are disproportionately represented within the emergency food assistance client population.  African American children are nearly three times as likely to receive emergency food assistance as their Caucasian peers.

  • More than 1 in 3 (38%) African American children in the U.S. live in families served by the Feeding America network, as compared with nearly 1 in 9 (11%) white, non-Hispanic children.[vi]

African American households experience disproportionate levels of poverty and have lower household income than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

  • Median income for African American households ($33,321) is significantly lower than their non-Hispanic White counterparts ($57,009).[vii]
  • Poverty rates for African Americans (27.2%) in 2012 were nearly triple that of non-Hispanic whites (9.7%).[viii]
  • 12.7% of African Americans live in deep poverty (less than 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold), compared to 6.6 percent of all people in the United States. [ix]

[i] CPS Table 3. (2012). Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population by sex, age, and race. Household data annual averages. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[ii] Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012, Table 2. USDA ERS.

[iv] Gundersen, C., Waxman, E., Engelhard, E., Satoh, A., & Chawla, N. (2013). Map the Meal Gap 2013 Feeding America.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Mabli, J., Cohen, R., Potter, F., Zhao, Z. (2010). Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.

[vii] DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B.D., & Smith, J.C. (2013). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012. U.S. Census Bureau.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.