Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, released its annual Map the Meal Gap in June. The report includes analysis of food insecurity in Idaho before the coronavirus, along with projections on how the pandemic will impact people facing hunger locally and across the country. Their extensive research is based on data from 2018 and provides critical information regarding food insecurity rates at the national, state and county level. Feeding America also initiated an additional study to explore how food insecurity rates may increase in 2020 due to COVID-19. The results are staggering. See below for a list of national, state and regional comparisons.
The Idaho Foodbank examines these numbers every year to determine hunger relief programs and services from both a state and local level. This data also helps pinpoint rural and high need areas where the organization’s mobile pantry program can be most effective. In addition, the coronavirus impact projections allow The Foodbank to adjust its operations, spot issues and set goals to support the state as it navigates the progress of the virus and the recovery period. “We believe in the resilience of Idahoans, but in order to tap into that power you need to meet people where they are,” said Karen Vauk, President and CEO of The Idaho Foodbank. “That is why we work closely with our network of over 400 partners to create services that provide each community relevant information and tools that build healthy habits.”
According to the report, Idaho’s food insecurity rate prior to the pandemic is 10.8 percent; which equates to 189,970 people or 1 in 9 individuals. The report also drills down the data to focus on children under 18 years old; finding that 12.6 percent of Idaho kids live in households without consistent access to adequate food. This percentage represents a total of 56,120 kids or 1 in 8 children. The projected numbers are based on a standard of 11.5 percent unemployment rate and an estimated poverty rate for the remainder of 2020. The grim estimates reveal that the overall number of food insecure Idahoans in 2020 is a total of 283,770 people (49 percent increase) or 1 in 6 individuals. The forecast also predicts that 98,420 kids (75 percent increase) or 1 in 4 children may experience food insecurity.
“On a daily basis many of our neighbors are struggling to meet basic needs and some, for the first time, are facing the reality of hunger. As a society we can’t afford the health impact for people not to have the food they need now and through their lifetime,” said Vauk. To serve the rising tide of Idahoans who find themselves without access to food, The Idaho Foodbank has increased food distribution statewide by an additional 30 percent. This increase constitutes enough food for an additional 2 million meals per month distributed across Idaho. They have also purchased historic amounts of food and essential product. To put this into perspective, during a typical year the organization would spend approximately $200,000 on food. Since March The Idaho Foodbank has spent over $900,000 to buy food to meet the exponential demand caused by the pandemic.
Map the Meal Gap is the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity across the United States. Feeding America has released this report for ten consecutive years to offer insights on how food insecurity and food costs vary at the local level.
Please see the attached document for a list of data broken down by county. For an interactive map with additional details, please go to: https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2018/overall/idaho
MAP THE MEAL GAP 2020 – KEY HIGHLIGHTS
- In Idaho, more than 50% of people who are food insecure may not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) due to their income level. This finding underscores the importance of protecting and strengthening the safety net of public food assistance while also investing in charitable programs that help to fill the gap for people who don’t qualify.
- Counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are disproportionately rural. Rural counties – those outside of major metropolitan areas – make up 63% of all U.S counties, but 87% of counties with food insecurity rates in the top 10%.
National – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data)
- The USDA estimates that 37 million people in the United States were food insecure which equates to 1 in 9 individuals.
- The USDA estimates that more than 11 million children were food insecure which equates to 1 in 7 children.
National – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections
- More than 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020 which equates to 1 in 6 individuals.
- More than 18 million children may experience food insecurity in 2020 which equates to 1 in 4 children.
Idaho – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data)
- Idaho’s rate of food insecurity overall is 189,970 (10.8%) which equates to 1 in 9 individuals.
- Idaho’s rate of food insecurity for children is 56,120 (12.6%) which equates to 1 in 8 children.
Idaho – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections
- More than 283,770 Idahoans (49% increase) may experience food insecurity in 2020 which equates to 1 in 6 individuals.
- More than 98,420 children (75% increase) may experience food insecurity in 2020 which equates to 1 in 4 children.
Idaho – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data)
- The three counties with the highest food insecurity rates are: Shoshone (16.5%), Custer (15.6%), and Clearwater (14.6%).
Idaho – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections
- The top three counties with highest projected food insecurity are Shoshone (23.4%), Custer (21.8%), and Lewis (20.4%).
Eastern Idaho – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data in 16 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 40,650, 10.45% of population in region.
- Total Food Insecure Children: 13,670, 12.63% of population in region.
Eastern Idaho – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections (16 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 60,890, 15.95% of population in region. An increase of 54.69% or 20,240 adults.
North Central Idaho – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data in 10 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 40,490, 13.46% of population in region.
- Total Food Insecure Children: 11,100, 17.29% of population in region.
North Central Idaho – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections (10 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 59,230, 19.08% of population in region. An increase of 42.2% or 18,740 adults.
- Total Food Insecure Kids: 18,360, 27.38% of population in region. An increase of 59.18% or 7,260 kids.
Southwest Idaho – MMG 2020 (*using 2018 data in 18 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 98,050, 11.5% of population in region.
- Total Food Insecure Kids: 28,690, 14.49% of population in region.
Southwest Idaho – MMG 2020 Pandemic Projections (18 counties)
- Total Food Insecure Adults: 149,440, 17% of population in region. An increase of 51,390 adults.
- Total Food Insecure Kids: 52,690, 24.37% of population in region. An increase of 71% or 24,000 kids.
About The Idaho Foodbank
The Idaho Foodbank is an independent, donor-supported, nonprofit organization founded in 1984, and is the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho. In its 35-year history, The Foodbank has distributed millions of pounds of food through its facilities in Boise, Lewiston, and Pocatello. In the last fiscal year, The Foodbank provided food for nearly 17 million meals to Idahoans in need. The Foodbank distributes food through a network of more than 400 community-based partners including schools, food pantries, senior centers, feeding sites, shelters, and churches. Recognizing the crucial connection between hunger and health, The Idaho Foodbank focuses on healthy food options and partners with community programs to promote nutrition education and healthy living. Visit idahofoodbank.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Press Contact: Susanne Lally – Public Relations, The Idaho Foodbank
Mobile: 208-803-1252 | firstname.lastname@example.org