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Map the Meal Gap

According to Feeding America’s Spring 2018 Map the Meal Gap report, 25.6% or 125,210 of New Mexico children are at risk of hunger in New Mexico.  This year’s report makes our state 1st among all states for childhood hunger tied.  The report also shows the overall hunger rate in New Mexico is 15.8% where 327,930 people in our state are at-risk for hunger.  The annual study ranks New Mexico 6th among all states in the U.S. for hunger tied with Ohio. The meal gap continues to remain high with nearly 60 million meals missing from the tables of our hungry neighbors.

Map the Meal Gap confirms that hunger exists in every county in Roadrunner Food Bank’s service area. Overall hunger rates range from a low of 8.8 percent in Guadalupe County up to 27.3 percent in McKinley County. Nationwide, the average for hunger across all counties is 12.9%.

In New Mexico, children at-risk of hunger are much worse off compared to the overall population and experience much higher rates of hunger.  Rates in the state range from a low of 16.8 percent of children at-risk of hunger in Los Alamos County to a high of 34.5 percent of children at-risk of hunger in McKinley County. The national hunger rate for children is 17.5 percent.

The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind.  Food costs and other daily expenses are increasing and wages have not kept pace. High rates of unemployment and under-employment also force many into food lines as they continue to struggle to earn enough to meet their needs.  In New Mexico, food insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $16.50 per person each week, up from $16.14 last year. For a family of four, this represents an additional $66 a week or $264 a month.

The report also estimates the meal gap by state and county as well as the food budget shortfall for low-income households. Below is the meal gap and dollar value of the meals needed in New Mexico:

Year            Meal Gap               Food Budget Shortfall             Cost Per Meal

2018             56,042,657                 $160,282,000                                    $2.86
2017             59,678,136                 $166,502,000                                    $2.79
2016             63,400,722                  $175,620,000                                     $2.77
2015             63,996,616                 $170,231,000                                    $2.66
2014             67,795,200                 $175,675,500                                     $2.59

Top New Mexico Counties – Child Hunger 2018
McKinley               34.5%                   1st
Luna                      33.3%                   2nd
Catron                   30.8%                   3rd

Top New Mexico Counties – Overall Hunger 2018
McKinley               27.2%                   1st
San Juan               20.9%                   2nd
Sierra                    19.8%                    3rd

Read the executive summaries and other information about the report:
Map the Meal Gap: Overall Food Insecurity Executive Summary
Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity Executive Summary
Map the Meal Gap: Data by County

View the meal gap for any New Mexico county HERE.

“It’s difficult to impress upon people how prevalent hunger is in our state.  New Mexico is not seeing economic recovery like other states,” said Mag Strittmatter, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank.  “Many of the counties we provide food to are located in rural communities with higher rates of hunger.  These counties and our partners in those counties heavily rely on the food we bring them to feed children, seniors and families experiencing hunger.”

Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. In New Mexico, the Food Bank distributed more than 33 million pounds of food last year through a statewide hunger-relief network made up of hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and regional food banks.  It also provided food through specialized hunger initiatives which take place in schools, senior centers, low-income senior housing sites and “pop-up” mobile distributions.

Map the Meal Gap 2018 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, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

 The study’s findings underscore the depth of need that remains in communities in New Mexico and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement. Food insecurity is a measure defined by the USDA as lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

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 2018.

This is the eighth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2018 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

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