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REPORT: ONE IN SEVEN HOOSIERS IS HUNGRY

A new report says 38 Indiana counties have food insecurity rates among children at or above 20 percent. (USDA)
A new report says 38 Indiana counties have food insecurity rates among children at or above 20 percent. (USDA)

More than 300,000 children in Indiana don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Feeding America’s 2017 Map the Meal Gap report is out, and it looks at the hunger rate in every county across the country.

The report analyzes factors such as food price variations, food budget shortfalls, poverty and unemployment.

It says overall, 1 in 7 Indiana residents is food insecure.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says the hunger rate for children is even higher – at 20 percent or more – in 38 counties in the state.

“You’ve got counties that are as high as almost 24 percent in Fayette, and nearly that high in Switzerland and Wayne as well,” she states. “And so, you’re talking about really closer to 1 in 4 children who are at risk of hunger. So they don’t know where that next meal is coming from.”

Weikert Bryant says about 7 in 10 Hoosier children are eligible for some sort of nutrition assistance program, but that leaves about 30 percent whose families make too much to qualify. In some cases, she says, the only places they have to turn for help are charitable organizations that distribute free food.

The report also finds shortfalls are growing in many families’ food budgets. Weikert Bryant says that means there isn’t enough to stretch from paycheck to paycheck.

“The numbers are remaining fairly steady, but the folks that are food insecure are having a much harder time,” she states. “That hole they have to dig out of is deeper than it used to be.”

Weikert Bryant adds a greater effort is needed to make sure that people who are eligible for food assistance apply for and receive it, and she says this is no time for the federal government to cut or restrict eligibility for food programs.

Marion County has the highest overall food insecurity rate in Indiana. Hamilton County has the lowest, but Weikert Bryant says there still are 26,000 people in that county at risk of hunger.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Life Gets Harder for Indiana’s Hungry

According to Study, 14% Hoosiers Struggle with Hunger

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Map the Meal Gap 2017 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Indiana. Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 9 percent of the population in Hamilton County up to nearly 19 percent in Marion County. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14%.

The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.  Food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $15.44 per person each week, up from $14.92 last year.

“We have seen a consistent increase in the food budget shortfall the last several years, in spite of economic improvement,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This rising measure of need suggests that people facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.”

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry is a Partner State Association of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger.  The eleven member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry collectively distributed 62.6 million meals to clients across Indiana in 2016 to alleviate hunger.

“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”

Map the Meal Gap 2017 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Key local findings:

  • 14.4% food insecurity rate in Indiana is estimated to be 950,720 Hoosiers at risk of hunger.
  • Child food insecurity numbers are estimated at 301,990 at 19.1%.
  • County averages range from 12.6% in Hamilton County to several counties to 38 at or above 20%, and several nearing a quarter of children in the county being food insecure, including Fayette, Switzerland, Sullivan, and Wayne Counties at over 23%.
Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group is the lead researcher of Map the Meal Gap 2017. A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org. Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2017 on Twitter using #MealGap.

Survey Finds 20 Percent of Hoosier Households with Children Struggle to Afford Food

New Data Underscore Need to Protect and Improve Federal Nutrition Programs

One in 5 households with children in Indiana reported in surveys covering the 2014–2015 period that they struggled to afford enough food, according to a new report released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit provides data on food hardship — the inability to afford enough food — for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).

  • Indiana ranked 23 out of 49 states and the District of Columbia, with 19.8 percent of households with children in 2014-2015 reporting they were unable to afford enough food.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County (IN-KY) MSA ranked 11 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 24.4 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson MSA ranked 46 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 19.9 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA ranked 63 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 18.4 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA ranked 90 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 14.9percent for households with children in 2014-2015.

Nationally, the food hardship rate for households with children (19.2 percent) was substantially higher than the food hardship rate for households without children (14.2 percent).

“Too many children across our state, and the nation, are missing out on the nutrition they need for their healthy growth and development,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This is unacceptable when there are solutions to end hunger now.”

Research shows that participation in federal nutrition programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and meals provided during child care, school, afterschool, and summer, mitigate hunger and supports children’s health and learning.

“We urge Congress to do right by their constituents and protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs,” added Bryant. “With political will, we can ensure all children have the nutrition they need for their health and learning.”

Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit contains data throughout 2014 and 2015 for 49 states and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSAs). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, which has been interviewing hundreds of households annually since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” A “yes” answer to this question is considered to signal that the household experienced food hardship.

The full report is available at www.frac.org

Editor’s Note: Maine rates were excluded from this report due to anomalies in the Gallup polling data in that state.

The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. In its A Plan of Action to End Hunger in America, FRAC recommends a policy path for the nation to reduce the suffering and unnecessary costs caused by struggles with hunger, poverty, and reduced opportunity. Follow FRAC on Facebook and Twitter.

15.5 Percent of Households in Indiana Struggled to Afford Enough Food in 2015

New Data Underscore Need to Protect and Improve Federal Nutrition Programs

Despite an improving economy, one in six people – 15.5 percent of respondents – in Indiana reported in 2015 they still struggled to afford enough for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). This put Indiana in the middle among states at 22nd in the nation.

How Hungry is America? provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every state, the District of Columbia, and 109 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 16 percent in 2015. Despite dropping three points from 18.9 percent in 2013—the lowest since early 2008-the report reveals that still no corner of the country is immune to hunger.

For Indiana, it found that:

  • 15.5 percent in the state in 2015 said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • For MSAs including parts of Indiana, the food hardship rate for 2014-2015 was:
    • 19.0 percent for Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN;
    • 17.2 percent for Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN;
    • 17.2 percent for Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN;
    • 15.3 percent for Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI.

“The latest data underscore the critical role federal nutrition programs—such as SNAP, and in-school and out-of-school meals—play in fighting hunger and poverty in our state, and that greater investments in these programs must be made,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “We are urging our Members of Congress to focus on protecting and strengthening these proven programs across America and to oppose any proposal that would threaten our nation’s nutrition safety net. By doing so, we can put an end to hunger in Indiana and across America.”

“It is crucial that the nation take actions that will dramatically decrease food hardship numbers,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “The cost of not doing so — in terms of damage to health, education, early childhood development, and productivity — is just too high. The moral cost of not doing so is even higher.”

How Hungry is America? contains data throughout 2015 for every state and 109 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing hundreds of households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”

The full report is available at www.frac.org.

New Map the Meal Gap Data Released

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Hunger Study Finds Food Insecurity Levels Remain Historically High

                           According to Study, 15% of Hoosiers Struggle with Hunger

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Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America that details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the United States. The study reveals that 15 percent of the population in Indiana is food insecure – 1,009,710 people, including 335,410 children.

Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Using county data from the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, Map the Meal Gap 2016 is the first Map the Meal Gap report with post-Great Recession county food-insecurity estimates.

“Map the Meal Gap shares data about the prevalence of hunger in our community,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director at Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This information allows our member food banks to better understand the need and work with partners, donors, and stakeholders, to help close that gap.”

This year’s report found that nearly 15 percent or approximately one in seven people in the United States struggles with hunger at some point during the year. While the rate has decreased since 2011, the prevalence of food insecurity across counties remains historically high since 2008, and has not yet returned to pre-Great Recession levels.

Key local findings:
• The county with the lowest overall food insecurity remains Hamilton County at 9.4 percent or an estimated 27,150 individuals.
• The highest level of food insecurity is in Marion County at 19.4 percent or an estimated 177,940 individuals.
• The highest child food insecurity rate is found in Fayette County at 26.1 percent or an estimated 1,430.
• The lowest child food insecurity rate is found in Hamilton County at 13.5 percent, or an estimated 11,470 children.
• 32 percent of Indiana’s food insecure have income above 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and are being served only by charitable hunger relief efforts as they are ineligible for federal nutrition programs.
Map the Meal Gap 2016 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity.

“This new research documents the pervasiveness of hunger in every community in our nation. While the economy has improved and unemployment rates have declined, many people are still struggling to access adequate amounts of nutritious food for their families,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America.

The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The lead researcher is Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group. This is the sixth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2016 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.

Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2016 on Twitter using #MealGap.

Food Insecurity Rises Slightly in Indiana, While Declining Nationally

1 in 7 Hoosier Households Struggled with Hunger in 2014

Household Food Security research released today by the USDA Economic Research Service illustrates no significant improvement in reducing food insecurity in Indiana. One in seven Hoosier households struggled with hunger on average in the years 2012-2014.

Corporate Photo Female client selects takes grains rolls Ramen bread Weight Watchers out of a box outside outdoor pantry many clients

The report found that 14.6 percent of Hoosiers now live in food insecure households, up from 14.1 percent in 2013. The national household food insecurity rate declined from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 14.0 percent in 2014.

“While the needle seems to be fluctuating, no real improvement is being made to ensure that Hoosier families have enough food to remain healthy and active,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Across the nation, households outside metropolitan areas (more rural areas) are seeing considerably deeper struggles with hunger compared to those inside metropolitan areas, with higher rates of food insecurity (17.1 percent compared to 13.5 percent), higher rates of food insecurity in households with children (23.6 percent compared to 18.4 percent), and higher rates of very low food security (7.3 percent compared to 5.3 percent).

The report also captured rates of very low food security, when households reported disrupted eating patterns or hunger due to inadequate resources for food on multiple occasions during the year. It found that 6.4 percent of Hoosiers lived in households with very low food security last year, above the national average of 5.6 percent.

“More than 1 million Hoosiers rely on our emergency food network, which continues to set new records in food distribution, but this will not solve the problem,” said Bryant. “Our nation can solve hunger. The federal nutrition programs are among the most effective tools in ensuring people of all ages get the food they need to be active and healthy.  We’re urging our elected leaders to keep these programs strong, and that starts with a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill this fall.”

Survey Finds 17 Percent of Households in Indiana Struggle to Afford Food

Data Underscores Need to Protect and Improve Partnerships for Nutrition Assistance

Nearly one in six Hoosier households – 17 percent of respondent142618.Klein.Augusta-7375s – reported in 2014 they struggled to afford enough food for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

How Hungry is America? provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for  the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 17.2 percent in 2014.

The report’s Food Hardship Index reveals:

  • Indiana ranked 21 out of 50 states, with 17.0 percent in the state in 2014 reporting they were unable to afford enough food. In the previous report of 2012 data, Indiana was ranked 18th with a food hardship rate of 20.4.
  • Louisville‐Jefferson County, KY‐IN ranked 15 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 21.4 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Cincinnati‐Middletown, OH‐KY‐IN ranked 35 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 19.6 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Indianapolis‐Carmel, IN ranked 52 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 18.6 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Chicago‐Naperville‐Joliet, IL‐IN‐WI ranked 74 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 16.5 percent for 2013-2014.

“It is unacceptable that so many across Indiana cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “These statistics are more than just numbers. They are Hoosier households with children, seniors, veterans, working adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to make ends meet.  We urge our elected leaders to do right by their constituents. It’s vital that they protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs, and support the state produce distribution program through Indiana’s food banks.  With political will, we can end hunger in Indiana now.”

The United States Senate and House recently passed budgets that would subject the federal nutrition programs to staggering cuts. Such cuts would cause irreparable harm to the health and well-being of millions of people across the country who struggle to put food on the table. They also ignore the fact that no community or state is free from hunger, as multiple studies and research continue to demonstrate.

In Indiana, legislative leaders continue discussion and negotiations on a state budget that includes support for Hoosier produce purchase and distribution through Indiana’s network of food banks, but at a funding level that has not been raised in six years even as the number of struggling Hoosiers continues to grow.

“Food hardship is a problem in every corner of Indiana. People are still struggling,” said Bryant, noting that too many Hoosiers bear the brunt of insufficient wages, unemployment or involuntary part-time employment, and struggle to get by. “Our elected leaders must work with the charitable and private sectors in earnest to make a significant impact on alleviating hunger and improving healthy outcomes for all Hoosiers.”

How Hungry is America? contains data throughout 2014 for every state and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSA). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing hundreds of households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” A “yes” answer to this question is considered to signal that the household experienced food hardship.

The full report is available at www.frac.org

Indiana Works to Reach More Kids Who Need School Breakfast

PHOTO: According to the Food Research and Action Center, 213,000 Indiana children ate a free school breakfast last year, less than half of those who participated in the federal School Lunch Program. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PHOTO: According to the Food Research and Action Center, 213,000 Indiana children ate a free school breakfast last year, less than half of those who participated in the federal School Lunch Program. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana schools have been working to ensure that all children, especially those who are low-income, start their day with a healthy breakfast. But a new report shows there is room for improvement.

The Food Research and Action Center found that less than half of the students who participated in federally funded school lunch programs also took part in the School Breakfast program. Lindsey Hill, president of the Indiana School Nutrition Association, said schools are trying to boost those numbers by offering breakfast outside of the cafeteria setting.

“Breakfast is actually delivered to the classroom in the mornings, and it’s a part of their day,” she said. “Other schools have done grab-and-go breakfasts where the breakfast is available as students get off the bus and they walk into the school building. It just makes it easier and faster than maybe having to walk down to the cafeteria.”

Indiana is sharing in a recent $5 million grant to rework how school breakfast is delivered, and Hill said school administrators and food-service directors around the state are collaborating to develop new strategies to reach more kids. Indiana ranks 34th nationally for participation in free school breakfast programs.

National implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision, allowing eligible low-income students to feed all students free of charge, began this year. The Indianapolis Public School District is among those offering it, and Hill said it is a good way to start the school day.

“The stigma of breakfast being only something that needy kids get is gone,” she said. “Breakfast in schools is actually something the children want to do because it’s fun and they get to socialize with their friends as well.”

According to the report, school breakfast programs have been linked to improved nutrition, fewer disciplinary problems and fewer missed days of school. Hill said the programs also help students learn better because they are not distracted by an empty stomach.

The School Breakfast Scorecard is online at frac.org.

2014 Map the Meal Gap Study Uncovers Indiana Food Insecurity Rate

Nation-wide Research Reveals Poverty to be Most Impactful to Consistent Food AccessMTMG_LOGO_4c

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – REVISED April 24, 2014 – Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced that the annual Map the Meal Gap results released today show that food insecurity continues to remain high in Indiana. According to the newly released data, 15.7 percent of Hoosiers are food insecure–more than one million people–which includes nearly 346,000 children.

Indiana falls around the national average of 15.9 percent food insecurity for all Americans; 21.8 percent of Hoosier children are food insecure compared to 21.6 percent of all American children. Rates reach as high as 19.2 percent of the total population in Marion County and 28.5 percent of children in Fayette County, Indiana’s highest areas of food insecurity. Indiana’s lowest rates occurred in Hamilton County, where 9.8 percent of the total population and 14.3 percent of children are food insecure; however, this still amounts to an estimated 27,130 people and 11,790 children in Hamilton County who don’t know from where or when then their next meal will come.

Map the Meal Gap 2014 is a detailed analysis of food insecurity done by Feeding America and the only study available that provides county–level estimates of food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a socioeconomic condition of limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.

“Studies like Map the Meal Gap 2014 allow Indiana’s food banks to continue to evaluate and adjust to the need in individual counties across the state,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “The research data includes weekly food-budget shortfalls, demographics and poverty levels which help us define the social issues plaguing Indiana to work together with state and local leaders to find a solution.”

The information is provided in an interactive map that allows viewers to find out how widespread hunger is in their community. The map can be found at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap and http://feedingindianashungry.org/resources/map-the-meal-gap/

Other key findings in Indiana:

54 percent of Indiana’s food insecure are likely income eligible for eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal nutrition assistance;
31 percent of Indiana’s food insecure have income that falls above all federal nutrition program income eligibility thresholds and would likely be income eligible only for charitable nutrition assistance provided by a food bank, food pantry, or other charitable organization;
71 percent of food insecure Hoosier children live in households likely eligible for federal nutrition assistance like free and reduced price school lunch, school breakfast, and the Summer Food Service Program.
Research for the study was generously supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen.

“Hunger is a pervasive and solvable problem plaguing every corner of America today,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “By continuing to provide extensive and revealing data like the 2014 Map the Meal Gap study, we will be able to tackle these issues head-on and be armed with the information needed to work towards making sure everyone has enough to eat.”

The Map the Meal Gap 2014 analysis was developed by Dr. Craig Gundersen for Feeding America. Food-insecurity rates are based on a state-level model that allows for the population in need of food at the county and congressional district level. Additionally, Feeding America worked in collaboration with Nielsen to arrive at estimates for food-cost variation by county. Results were reviewed by the Feeding America Technical Advisory Group in order to ensure accuracy and promote transparency

A summary of the findings and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap