Map the Meal Gap
According to Feeding America’s April 2016 Map the Meal Gap report, 27.2% or 136,070 of New Mexico children are at risk of hunger in New Mexico. This year’s report makes our state 2nd among all states for childhood hunger. The report also shows the overall hunger rate in New Mexico is 17.2% where 358,770 people in our state are at-risk for hunger. The annual study ranks New Mexico 7th among all states in the U.S. for hunger. The meal gap continues to remain high with 63 million meals missing from the tables of our hungry neighbors.
Using county data from the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, Map the Meal Gap 2016 is the first Map the Meal Gap report with post-Great Recession county food-insecurity estimates. Over the past six years, Roadrunner Food Bank’s national organization, Feeding America, has released the annual study to measure hunger by state, county and congressional district.
“Map the Meal Gap shows us that hunger exists in every county, but also that in New Mexico we are not seeing significant improvement around the issue of hunger. We continue to distribute record amounts of food across the state every year, but this report confirms what we know – hunger remains a serious issue,” said Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank. “Lack of higher wage jobs, high unemployment rates and continued layoffs are primary reasons why families do not have enough of an income to afford food, and end up in our food lines.”
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
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
Of all the 33 New Mexico counties, 21 have childhood hunger rates of more than 25% with 1 in 4 children at risk of hunger. A majority of these 21 counties are located in rural areas.
Top New Mexico Counties – Child Hunger 2016
McKinley 36.4% 1st
Luna 36.2% 2nd
Cibola 33.8% 3rd
Top New Mexico Counties – Overall Hunger 2016
McKinley 25.3% 1st
Luna 21.6% 2nd
San Juan 19.3% 3rd
View the meal gap for any New Mexico county HERE.
This year’s report found that nearly 15 percent or approximately one in seven people in the United States struggles with hunger at some point during the year. In New Mexico, 1 in 6 New Mexicans is at risk of hunger. While the rate has slightly decreased since 2011, the prevalence of hunger across counties remains historically high since 2008, and has not yet returned to pre-Great Recession levels.
Map the Meal Gap 2016 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 (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity.
The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The lead researcher is 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. This is the sixth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.