Map the Meal Gap: Child food insecurity drills down to county level to count the children without regular meals, data at the local level for the first time
The West Texas Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, today released a new study which reveals in 35 percent of children under the age of 18 are struggling with hunger in West Texas. This puts our region 12 points higher than the national average of 23.2 percent and second only to the border region of Starr County and its immediate neighbors in Texas.
The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011”, shows that while one in six Americans overall are food insecure, the rate for children is much higher: nearly one in four children are food insecure. In West Texas, this number skyrockets to, in some cases, almost half the children (Presidio County is at 44.4 percent and Reeves County follows at 41.3 percent).
The bottom line is that 21 out of 22 counties in the West Texas Food Bank service area report child hunger totals higher than the national average. In fact, the number of total food insecure children in all of West Texas would overflow Midland and spill into Odessa. In El Paso, over 86,000 children don’t have access to regular, healthy meals. And well over half (66 percent) of all these food insecure West Texas children live just at or below the 185 percent of poverty threshold, which means we are allowing a majority of our area’s children slip through the cracks.
“How can we expect our great nation to grow high-performing schools, a healthy workforce and keep healthcare costs down when we aren’t adequately feeding our children?” Augie Fernandes, executive director of the West Texas Food Bank said. “And the anomaly is that in many parts of West Texas, business is booming: oil and gas are terrific economic drivers. But none of that will matter when we look at the overall health of our community. Our children are the most important asset for our future. And this asset requires our willingness to protect and to nourish them so we may all realize the promise of our great nation.”
“Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity” provides the following data for the 22 counties that the West Texas Food Bank serves in an interactive map format:
• The percentage of the population who is food insecure.
• The percentage of children in that is eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.
• The percentage of children in that is not eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.
An executive summary of the report can be found at: feedingamerica.org/mapthegap/childsummary
The study is an important tool because it provides critical information for developing strategies to alleviate child hunger.
By providing additional details about the face of child food insecurity at the county level, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011” will enable food banks, the community based agencies they serve and policy makers to redefine approaches in addressing needs of hungry children and their families and develop more effective policy solutions.
This research is supported by ConAgra Foods Foundation. The ConAgra Foods Foundation funded this research with the goal of advancing the collective understanding of child hunger in America, so that resources at the local and national level could be better leveraged to help children and families in need.
The research is based on “Map the Meal Gap 2011: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level”, supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.
About the West Texas Food Bank
The West Texas Food Bank (WTFB) is a nonprofit, non-governmental hunger relief organization that distributes donated and purchased food through a network of Partner Agencies in 22 counties throughout West Texas. The WTFB supports the nutritional needs of children, families and senior citizens through strategic partnerships with civic and corporate groups, as well as private donors.
Founded in 1985, the WTFB is a member of Feeding America (feedingamerica.org), the nation’s largest network of hunger relief organizations. Every week, the WTFB feeds approximately 15,000 people. Last year, WTFB provided 7 million meals through their efforts. Every dollar donated provides 4 meals for the hungry, and 95 cents of every dollar goes directly to feed West Texas.
About Feeding America
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.