African Americans

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 nearly twice as likely to be unemployed (13%) as their white, non-Hispanic counterparts (7%). [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 percent of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.

  • One in four (25%) African American households are food insecure as compared with one in 10 (11%) of Caucasian households and one in seven (15%) households overall.[ii]
  • Nearly one in three African American children (32%) live in food insecure households as compared one in six (17%) Caucasian children.[iii]
  • While the 101 counties in 2012 with a majority African American population represent only 3 percent of all U.S. counties, 93 percent of African American majority counties fall into the top 10 percent of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.[iv]
  • Four out of the 94 majority African American counties with the highest rates of food insecurity also fall into the top 10 percent of counties with the highest food cost index; the average cost per meal in these counties is $3.27, as compared with the national average of $2.74.[v]
  • Of the 10 counties with the highest food-insecurity rates in the nation, they are all at least 70 percent African American. All but one of these 10 counties are located in Mississippi.


Charitable Food Assistance

African American households are disproportionately represented within the charitable food assistance client population.  African Americans are three times as likely to receive charitable food assistance through the Feeding America network as their Caucasian peers.

  • More than one in four (31%) African Americans in the U.S. are served by the Feeding America network each year, totaling 12 million African American adults, seniors, and children. [vi],[vii]
  • Ten percent of the white non-Hispanic population in the U.S. are Feeding America clients, meaning African Americans are three times as likely to receive assistance through the Feeding America network.


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).[viii]
  • Poverty rates for African Americans (27%) in 2012 were nearly triple that of non-Hispanic whites (10%).[ix]
  • 13 percent of African Americans live in deep poverty (less than 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold), compared to 7 percent of all people in the United States. [x]

[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., E. Engelhard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman. Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America, 2014.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014, National Report. August 2014.

[vii] US Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) Table B03002.

[viii] 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.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.