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The wages of hunger
SoVaNow.com / May 07, 2014The Feed-More organization that sent out the statement below has been a stalwart in the fight against hunger in Southside Virginia. In light of various efforts around the county to address the problem of hunger — elementary school Backpack Buddies, church and community food banks, the creation of community gardens — it’s worth a moment to consider the ramifications that a sluggish economy has had on this most basic indicator of family well-being. Feed-More’s media release came late in this week’s press cycle, hence the brevity of our own comments, but it’s a good group that does good work. Their findings should help to shape our thinking about the problem. Here’s what they have to say:
A new study finds that 205,000 individuals in FeedMore’s service area – including 51,440 children – do not always know where they will find their next meal. In all, over 13 percent of Central Virginians struggle with hunger, according to research recently released by Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks.
“Studies like Map the Meal Gap 2014 allow FeedMore to continue to evaluate and adjust to the need in our area,” said Jeff Baldwin, media and public relations manager for FeedMore. “The research data shows that hunger continues to be a reality for thousands of our neighbors.”
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. Additional data available in the Map the Meal Gap study include weekly food-budget shortfalls, demographics and poverty levels.
Food insecurity numbers in FeedMore’s service area include:
County of Halifax – 16.9 percent of the population and 19.6 percent of children – 6,100 individuals and 1,550 children
County of Mecklenburg – 17.3 percent of the population and 21 percent of children – 5,620 individuals and 1,340 children
County of Charlotte – 15 percent of the population and 18.6 percent of children – 1,880 individuals and 540 children
County of Prince Edward – 16.6 percent of the population and 18.1 percent of children – 3,829 individuals and 710 children
County of Nottoway – 15.7 percent of the population and 15.7 percent of children – 2,500 individuals and 510 children
County of Lunenburg – 16.4 percent of the population and 20.3 percent of children – 2,100 individuals and 510 children
City of Richmond – 21.7 percent of the population and 21.2 percent of children – 44,510 individuals and 8,310 children
County of Chesterfield - 9.4 percent of the population and 11.8 percent of children – 29,930 individuals and 9,650 children
County of Henrico - 12.5 percent of the population and 13.7 percent of children – 38,480 individuals and 10,140 children
County of Hanover – 7.5 percent of the population and 12.1 percent of children – 7,460 individuals and 2,990 children
City of Petersburg – 25.4 percent of the population and 21.2 percent of children – 8,180 individuals and 1,450 children
City of Hopewell – 18.8 percent of the population and 21.1 percent of children – 4,220 individuals and 1,230 children
City of Colonial Heights – 11.2 percent of the population and 15.3 percent of children – 1,950 individuals and 590 children
“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.”
Research for the study was generously supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen.
“It should be a wake-up call to us all that nearly 50 million of our neighbors are at risk of hunger in the United States, a country with the most productive farmers helping to feed the world,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman & CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “Research like Map the Meal Gap is critical to organizations like the Feeding America network of food banks and agencies as they work to develop the most effective solutions for addressing hunger in every community in America.”
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 estimation of 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, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at feedingamerica.org/mapthegap
The study also reveals that 46 percent of the food-insecure population in FeedMore’s service area lives below the SNAP threshold of 130 percent poverty and 61 percent of children are eligible for federal nutrition programs, like free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast.
“No one should have to worry about where they will find their next meal,” added Baldwin. “We are confident Central Virginia will continue to rally together and help us ensure that no child, family or senior goes hungry in our region.”
FeedMore’s programs – the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and the Community Kitchen – provide hunger-relief solutions for our region’s most vulnerable populations – food-insecure children, struggling families, the disabled and homebound seniors. FeedMore serves neighbors in need across Central Virginia’s 31 counties and five cities, ranging from rural and suburban to urban localities, and is a Feeding America member agency. For additional information about our programs and services, please visit http://www.feedmore.org.