For the second year in a row, New Mexico ranks #1 for childhood hunger. The 2014 release of Map the Meal Gap shows the childhood hunger rate in New Mexico is 29.2% with one in three children growing up hungry. The report shows that more than 150,000 New Mexico children are at risk of hunger.
Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said, “This should be a wakeup call for everyone in our state. Until we make sure that our children aren’t going to school hungry, we won’t be able to solve any of the other problems we have. If you look at indicators like our children’s abysmal test scores, health, graduation rates and future wages, childhood hunger underpins them all. Agencies like ours can’t address this issue alone. It’s a statewide problem. It needs a statewide response.”
Over the past four years, Roadrunner Food Bank’s national organization, Feeding America, has released the annual study to measure hunger and the gap of meals by state and county.
New Mexico is fourth in overall hunger among states, tied with Alabama and North Carolina. 18.6% of people in New Mexico are at risk of experiencing hunger in New Mexico overall. Nationwide, the hunger rate is 15.9%.
The annual Map the Meal Gap report also estimates the meal gap by state and county and the food budget shortfall for low-income households. In 2014, the report showed New Mexico’s meal gap is 67,795,200 translating into a food budget shortfall of $175,675,500. The average cost per meal in New Mexico is $2.59 according to the report.
The top five New Mexico counties with the highest rates of hunger overall and for children are below. Luna County ranked as the hungriest county in New Mexico for both children and the overall population:
Luna – 39.7%
Taos – 32.6%
Cibola – 32.4%
McKinley – 32.2%
Luna – 22.9%
McKinley – 22.2%
Cibola – 18.3%
Sierra – 18%
Roosevelt and San Juan – 17.7%
To Map the Meal Gap in any New Mexico County, visit www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.