On May 4, Feeding America’s national office released the newest version of their annual study of hunger, Map the Meal Gap.
The study found that the number of food-insecure Americans had dropped to 42 million in 2015 from 48 million the year before. But for those who are food insecure, their weekly food budget shortfall — a measure of the severity of their need — had increased by 3%.
In other words, fewer Americans are hungry. But for those who are, the meal gap is widening.
Using a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and food price data from Nielsen, Feeding America found that the average food-insecure person requires an extra $17.38 per week in order to fully provide for their nutritional needs. The study also found that rural counties and counties in the south are more likely to have high rates of food insecurity.
In the 40 counties Feeding America West Michigan serves, the overall food insecurity rate inched down from 13% in 2014 to 12.2% in 2015. The rate of food insecurity among children in our region dropped from 18.5% to 16.3%.
While a decrease in the estimated food insecurity rate is certainly encouraging, we have yet to see a drop in demand for our services at Feeding America West Michigan. In fact, 2016 was our fourth record year of food distribution in a row. We remain committed to reaching our ultimate goal of ensuring that healthy food is available to every person in our region.