Chicago - A new study released today by Feeding America, a hunger relief organization, reveals millions of children are struggling with hunger in every U.S. county, regardless of whether they live in homes below or above the poverty level.
“Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011,” found the percentage of hungry U.S. children range from a low of 7 percent in Steele County, North Dakota, to a high of 50 percent in both the Zavala and Starr counties in Texas.
"The prevalence and consequences of our nation's child food insecurity problem are well documented, but our efforts to adequately address the problem have been hindered by a lack of data at the local level," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "This new information addresses this need by providing first-ever data about the prevalence of child food insecurity (CFI) at the county and congressional district level."
The study, which for the first time broke down data at the most basic, local levels, also stressed that food insecurity among children cuts across every congressional district.
Among the key findings of the report are:
There are 314 counties in the U.S. where approximately one-third of children are struggling with food insecurity.
There are 19 counties where more than 100,000 children are food insecure; three of which have more than 300,000 food insecure children
Four states–Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama—have over 30 percent of their counties in the top 10 percent of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation.
A significant proportion of food insecure children are likely not eligible for federal child nutrition programs because they live in a household with income over the threshold to qualify.