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Life gets harder for north central Indiana’s hungry

Food insecurity rate in Carroll County 10.8% (2,160 people)

LAFAYETTE, INDIANA– Food Finders Food Bank announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Map the Meal Gap 2017 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in the Food Finders Food Bank’s service area. Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 10.1 percent of the population in White County up to 16.1 percent in Tippecanoe County. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14 percent

The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.  Food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $15.62 per person each week, up from $15.12 last year.

“Food Finders analyses the Map the Meal Gap data carefully to determine where we need to increase our food distribution. At first glance, the information seems positive with both Childhood Food Insecurity and Overall Food Security going down by a few percentage points. Unfortunately, the 2017 data also show that the average meal gap (the shortfall of money needed by individuals to feed their households) has grown significantly,” said Katy Bunder, President/CEO of Food Finders. “This indicates that while slightly fewer people are food insecure, those who are experiencing food insecurity are in need of more help than they were when the data was released in 2016.”

Food Finders Food Bank is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. Food Finders serves more than 79,000 food insecure residents in our 16-county service area. In 2016, Food Finders distributed 5,582,078 meals through programs like BackPack, Senior Grocery, Summer Food Service, Mobile Pantry, Agency Partner, and most recently, its Education & Resource Coordination programs.

“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”

Map the Meal Gap 2017 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 is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Key local findings:
The average weekly food budget shortfall per food insecure person is only $15.62
Of the food insecure population, 16 percent may qualify for free/reduced lunch, while 23 earn too much to qualify for any federal assistance
Following the national trend, in every county across FFFB’s service area, children are at a higher risk of food insecurity compared to the overall population

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 2017.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at

Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2017 on Twitter using #MealGap.

SOURCE: News release from Food Finders