Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2019, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. It is the only study that provides food insecurity data at the local level.

Map the Meal Gap 2019 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Second Harvest’s service area. It also shows that children are more likely to be food insecure, with the child food insecurity rate at 15 percent compared to 8.5 percent for the overall population for Jefferson County.

According to key findings, there are 7,200 food insecure people in Jefferson County and the annual food budget shortfall in the county is $3,541,000.

“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger, and it is within our collective power to change that and ensure that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America. “The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is investing in our nation’s future by helping to provide over 146 million meals to children every year. Still, Map the Meal Gap highlights that more must be done. Together food banks, corporations, policymakers, donors, volunteers and advocates can solve hunger.”

“I encourage everyone to get involved to be part of the solution,” Babineaux-Fontenot continued. “One way is to tell Congress to invest in kids during Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation and increase access to food for kids during the summer. Your voice matters and we can make a difference.”

Overall food insecurity in Second Harvest’s service area ranges from a low of 8.2 percent of the population in Columbia and Green Counties up to 11 percent in Grant County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

The analysis also finds that 34 percent of residents of Jefferson County who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements. This means that many households must rely even more on charitable food assistance such as the Second Harvest.

“The Map the Meal Gap data is critical to our ability to help those facing hunger in our community,” said Dan Stein, president and CEO of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. “More importantly, the data shows that while we are making progress towards our mission of ending hunger in southwestern Wisconsin, there is still work to be done.”

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is a member of Feeding America’s hunger-relief network.

comprised of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that together provides food assistance to more than 40 million people in the U.S. struggling with hunger. Second Harvest meets nearly a million requests for help every year within 16 counties in southwestern Wisconsin.

This is the ninth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

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