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.