Map the Meal Gap
In order to address the problem of hunger, we must first understand it. Feeding America undertook the Map the Meal Gap project to learn more about the face of hunger at the local community level. By understanding the population in need, communities can better identify strategies for reaching the people who most need food assistance.
At Feeding America, our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. Although we seek to meet the needs of food insecure individuals and families, it is not always easy to identify the need for food within each of our communities. Traditionally, Feeding America has used state and national level USDA food insecurity data to estimate the need (e.g. “49 million people in the United States are at risk of hunger in 2010”), but food banks are rooted in their local communities and need better information at the ground level in order to be responsive to their unique local conditions.
Until now, the number of people falling below the federal poverty threshold has been the indicator most typically used for identifying the need for food at the local level because it is one of the few indicators available at the county level. However, national food insecurity data reveal that about 58% of those struggling with hunger actually have incomes above the federal poverty level and 59% of poor households are food secure. Thus, measuring need based on local poverty rates alone provides an incomplete illustration of the potential need for food assistance within our communities. More accurate assessments of need across all income levels within our service areas can assist Feeding America and our network of food banks in strategic planning for charitable food services that best support families in need, as well as inform the public policy discussion so that vital federal nutrition programs can better serve those in need. Most importantly, better community-level data can serve as an important resource for engaging community leaders and partners in the journey from aspiration (ending hunger) to achievement through a quantifiable and data-driven approach.
Overall Executive Summary
Get the full 2010 Executive Summary [PDF]
Get the full 2009 Executive Summary [PDF]
Overall Data and Maps by Congressional Districts in each state
Together, federal nutrition programs and the emergency food system weave a comprehensive nutrition safety net reaching food insecure individuals at different income levels and in different settings. So in addition to developing county level food insecurity estimates, Map the Meal Gap also estimates food insecurity rates for every congressional district in every state in the United States. It is our hope that food banks, partner agencies, policy makers, business leaders, community activists and concerned citizens will use this information to fully engage in the fight against hunger. As with counties, it is important to note that no congressional district is free of food insecurity.
View and download state charts with complete 2010 food insecurity data by Congressional District.
View and download state charts with complete 2009 food insecurity data by Congressional District.
View and download state maps showing 2010 food insecurity rates by Congressional District.
View and download state maps showing 2009 food insecurity rates by Congressional District.
Please note that in 2009, we used data from the 5-year American Community Survey (2005-2009) to estimate food insecurity rates at the congressional district level. As additional information became available in the American Community Survey, we were able to update this methodology by using data from the 1-year American Community Survey (2010) to estimate food insecurity rates at the congressional district level. Please see the technical brief for more details regarding the methodology.
Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M., , Andrews, M. & Carlson, S. (2011). Household Food Security in the United States in 2010 USDA ERS.