Map the Meal Gap Released in May

Roadrunner® Food Bank of New Mexico announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2019, the latest report by Feeding America® on hunger and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Currently, it is the only study that provides food insecurity data at the county level.

Map the Meal Gap 2019 revealed that New Mexico ranks among the worst in the nation for childhood hunger. One in four children is at risk, or 24.1 percent.  Additionally, it shows 15.8 percent or 324,000 people in New Mexico are at-risk of hunger.

Map the Meal Gap confirms that hunger exists in every county in Roadrunner Food Bank’s service area. Hunger rates range from a low of 9.3 percent of the overall population in Guadalupe County up to 26 percent of the overall population in McKinley County for the overall population. Nationwide, the average hunger rate across all counties is 12.5 percent. New Mexico ranks sixth worst among all states when looking at the entire overall population.

In New Mexico, children are much worse off and more likely to experience hunger compared to the overall population in the state and across the U.S.  Rates in the state range from a low of 17.1 percent of children at-risk of hunger in Los Alamos County to a high of 33.5 percent of children at-risk of hunger in McKinley County. The national hunger rate for children is 17 percent.  New Mexico has nearly twice the childhood hunger rate compared to the national hunger rate in the U.S.

The analysis also finds that a percentage of New Mexicans in food insecure households are likely to be ineligible for federal nutrition assistance. Under current program requirements, many low-income households make a little much to qualify for programs such as SNAP (food stamps). These households must rely heavily on charitable food assistance programs like Roadrunner’s statewide hunger relief network.

“Federal nutrition programs provide an important source of meals for those with extremely low-incomes in our state.  However, many fall into a gap.  On paper these households technically are still in poverty, but make just a little too much to qualify for SNAP benefits.  If they do qualify, it may only be a small amount,” said Mag Strittmatter, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank. “The households in this gap are often the most food insecure and count on charitable food assistance programs. There is no other resource for these family to turn to for help, and our statewide charitable hunger network provides the emergency food they need to for their family to escape hunger.”

Top Five New Mexico Counties for Child Hunger                                          

  • McKinley County – 33.5 percent
  • Luna County – 33.4 percent
  • Cibola County – 30.4 percent
  • Catron County – 30.4 percent
  • Sierra County – 27.8 percent

Top Five New Mexico Counties for Overall Hunger

  • McKinley County – 26 percent
  • Luna County – 20.7 percent
  • Cibola County – 19.8 percent
  • San Juan County – 19.6 percent
  • Sierra County – 19 percent

For more information about Map the Meal Gap visit this interactive map. Additional resources can be found via Tableau Public.  McKinley County is featured in this visualization of counties with high food insecurity.

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