BEREA, Ky. — The Kentucky Association of Food Banks 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 Kentucky. Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 8 percent of the population in Oldham County up to 23 percent in Wolfe County. Kentucky’s overall food insecurity rate of 16 percent decreased slightly from the previous year’s rate of 17 percent. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14 percent.
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 $15.79 per food insecure person each week, up from $15.35 last year.
“Though far too many Kentuckians continue to struggle to put healthful food on the table, we are encouraged by the movement in the right direction on hunger in Kentucky,” said Tamara Sandberg, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. “Kentucky is a leader in the nation for our strong public-private partnerships, such as the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Quarles’s Hunger Initiative and the Kentucky Legal Food Frenzy sponsored by Attorney General Andy Beshear. We are committed to implementing creative solutions to the problem of hunger until the day when no Kentuckian has to go to bed hungry.”
Comprised of the seven Feeding America food banks, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB) is the state’s largest charitable response to hunger. Members of the association distributed the equivalent of 58 million meals last year in partnership with over 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens and shelters. KAFB feeds 1 in 7 Kentuckians each year in all 120 counties in Kentucky.
“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:
- Food insecurity exists in every county in Kentucky.
- The 5th Congressional District has the highest food insecurity rate of Kentucky’s congressional districts, at 19.2 percent.
- Children are at a higher risk of food insecurity; 20 percent of Kentucky’s children are food- insecure. Three Kentucky counties have childhood food-insecurity rates of 30 percent or higher: Wolfe (32.4 percent); Magoffin (30.7 percent); and Clay (30.2 percent). This represents a decrease from the previous year, when 11 Kentucky counties had childhood food-insecurity rates of 30 percent or higher.
- 27.3 percent of Kentuckians in food-insecure households have incomes above 185 percent of the poverty line, making them likely ineligible for most federal nutrition assistance programs.
- The “Food Budget Shortfall” – the additional dollars food-insecure Kentuckians report needing to meet their food needs – was $334,999.00
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.
— Kentucky Association of Food Banks
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