Important Facts on Rural Hunger in Michigan

Cars lined up at a Mobile Food Pantry

Cars lined up at a Mobile Food Pantry

At Feeding America West Michigan, we believe hunger is unacceptable and that our community has the power to changes lives—one meal at a time. The area we serve includes the west side and Upper Peninsula of Michigan, encompassing a diverse population that faces many unique challenges impacting food security.

Many factors impact the likelihood of someone experiencing hunger, such as income, age, ethnicity, or geographic location. In this post we will dive deeper into how geographic location can affect levels of food security, specifically discussing rural hunger.

Living in a rural community comes with certain challenges that make affording food more difficult, including lack of transportation, jobs that pay low wages and underemployment. Rural communities also often have older populations, higher rates of chronic disease and limited healthcare infrastructure.

In the United States, food insecurity rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. 11% of rural households were food insecure in 2021 according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Map the Meal Gap report put together by Feeding America says 9 out of 10 counties with the highest food insecurity rates across the country are rural.

In Michigan, the overall food insecurity rate is 11.5%. In the Upper Peninsula, where 100% of the counties are rural, the food insecurity rate is 14%. Not only is the need higher in rural areas, but it’s also more difficult to access food. Grocery stores are limited and distant—increasing residents’ time spent traveling and money spent on gas.

Feeding America West Michigan’s mission is to gather and distribute food to relieve hunger and increase food security in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. This means we are committed to serving everyone who faces hunger, no matter where they live, even in the rural areas that are more difficult to reach. One way we work to serve neighbors in rural areas is through our Mobile Pantry program which brings food directly to communities so people don’t have to travel far away to get the food they need.

Thanks to a generous donation from Conagra, Feeding America West Michigan was able to purchase a new trailer dedicated to serving neighbors facing hunger in the Upper Peninsula. This addition will allow us to expand our direct delivery, depot delivery and Mobile Food Pantry program in the Upper Peninsula.

Since so much of Feeding America West Michigan’s service area is rural, we know it is imperative to understand the impacts of rural hunger and to continue to serve all of our neighbors despite any barriers due to geographical location. Click here to learn more about how you can help us in supporting those experiencing rural hunger!

Written by Content Specialist Kelly Reitsma