Nearly 23 percent of Baltimore residents suffered inadequate access to food in 2012, according to a new report prepared by Feeding America, a Chicago-based hunger relief non-profit organization.
The report, titled “Map the Meal Gap,” examined food-insecurity rates in all 3,143 counties in the United States, and was funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation, and The Nielsen Company, according to Ross Fraser, a spokesperson for Feeding America.
Food-insecurity is determined on the basis of whether all members of a household, at all times, had access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle, a definition established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The food-insecurity rate is defined as the percentage of the population that experienced food insecurity at some point during the year.
The national food-insecurity rate stood at 15.9 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data was available, while the rate for the state of Maryland was 13.1 percent.
Of the 140,490 people who experienced food insecurity in Baltimore in 2012, 85 percent were within the eligibility threshold for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. According to the report, it would cost approximately $72.5 million to make up the food shortfall for Baltimore residents.
“The big news is the finding on the ‘Food Budget Shortfalls,’ the amount of money low-income Americans tell the Census Bureau they are short of having in order to provide themselves and their families with three square meals a day,” Fraser said. “In last year’s report this shortfall was $21.8 billion dollars [total], the number has now grown to $23.5 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion—and this was before food stamps were cut by $5 billion in November 2013.”
Feeding America has released an interactive map which allows users to look up food insecurity rates by state and county for 2012, as well as compare overall food insecurity rates to child food-insecurity rates. The map is available at: http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/map-the-meal-gap.aspx