Every four years, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada undertakes a significant effort to evaluate the extent of hunger and food insecurity in our service area, and to gauge how well we are meeting the needs of our partner agencies. We collaborate with other food banks across the nation and the total results are used for a nationwide hunger study.
The process means talking to the men, women, families, seniors who access food services in our service area. It not only helps us to gauge our response to hunger but serves as hands-on tool about who we are serving and why.
Map the Meal Gap
Recently, Feeding America undertook the Map the Meal Gap project, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local community level. This click through allows you to search Feeding America's interactive map to start learning more about the residents struggling with hunger here in Nevada and how we are striving to Make Hunger History in northern Nevada.
The unprecedented study paints a detailed portrait of food insecurity in Northern Nevada by providing the first detailed look at the food budget needed by families struggling with hunger here in Northern Nevada and the eastern slope of the Sierra in California each year – an estimated $51,228,840 in 2009.
“This research details food insecurity by county, which emphasizes the tremendous case for connecting those who need them with federal food supplement benefits,” said Food Bank of Northern Nevada President and CEO, Cherie Jamason. “We also learned that services offered by the Food Bank of Northern Nevada are the only safety net available to many in need.”
The study takes a look at ‘meals’ in a whole new way, using county-level data on food costs from The Nielsen Company to break down the food budget shortfall of our residents into an approximation of the meals missing from the tables of people at risk of hunger in northern Nevada and California each year.
The ‘“Map the Meal Gap” was also able to compare food costs across counties, showing that 13 counties served by the Food Bank of Northern Nevada have higher food costs than the national average.
According to Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data analyzed as part of “Map the Meal Gap”, people struggling with hunger estimate they would need about $56 more each month on average during the months that they are food insecure to address the shortages in their food budget. On a county by county level, “Map the Meal Gap” shows that this shortfall represents an estimated 21,973,988 meals in the Food Bank of Northern Nevada service area on an annual basis.
Together, the emergency food system and critical federal nutrition programs weave a comprehensive nutrition safety net reaching at-risk Americans at different income bands and in different settings, with special focus on vulnerable child and senior populations.
“The interactive map will, for the first time, allow policy makers, state agencies, corporate partners and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community by community level,” said Cherie Jamason.
“Map the Meal Gap” also provides critical information that has never been previously available -- food insecurity rates for Congressional Districts. Previously, food insecurity data was only available at the state level in the USDA’s annual report. The study further analyzes each district’s food insecure population to determine their income eligibility for federal nutrition assistance. This data has the potential to redefine the way service providers and policy makers address areas of need.
The findings of “Map the Meal Gap” are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and food price data from The Nielsen Company. The study was supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.
“Map the Meal Gap” was conducted using well-established, transparent methods. Data were analyzed by Feeding America in partnership with Dr. Craig Gundersen, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available on Feeding America's web site at www.feedingamerica.org