Map the Meal Gap 2019 is a detailed analysis of food insecurity in every county and congressional district in the United States, and the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity across the country.
Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.
The study recently found that one in seven people in Central Florida struggle with hunger. Almost half a million people in Central Florida don’t know when or where their next meal will come.
Of Central Florida’s six counties, Volusia County’s food-insecurity rates are significantly higher than the national average. Brevard and Orange counties also are well above national levels.
Although the economy is improving in our community, food insecurity rates have still not returned to pre-recession levels. Central Floridians continue to struggle and face making difficult decisions. When people struggle to pay rent and cover other monthly living expenses, they tend to cut down on food first. The continued rise in cost of living and the affordable housing crisis in Central Florida makes it even more difficult for families and individuals who are food insecure.
Hunger Gap in Central Florida: 77,808,636 more meals a year are needed to fill the hunger gap.
The report shows that 143,000 children in Central Florida are food insecure. One in five kids in our community is food insecure. This is enough children to fill every seat in more than seven Amway Centers.
Being food insecure at any age can be harmful, but it can be devastating for children. It can stunt their growth, affect their ability to learn and forces them to withdraw from social interaction.
In 99% of counties in the United States, there are at least some food-insecure individuals and families whose level of income prevents them from qualifying for federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and free and reduced-priced school lunch programs. As a result, their primary source of support for food or other assistance comes from the nonprofit sector.
In Central Florida, these individuals turn to Second Harvest Food Bank and its network of 550 feeding partners to feed themselves and their families each year.
An analysis of county data on health indicators and food insecurity shows that communities with the highest rates of food insecurity face a higher prevalence for diseases and other measures that are tied to poor health.
The intersection of hunger and health can be depicted as a cycle.
Source: Map the Meal Gap 2019