Feeding America reveals 'hungry' US areas

Not everyone who goes hungry lives below the poverty level.

There is an intermediate level above the poverty line known as food insecurity, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Food insecurity is the USDA’s term for a lack of access to enough nutritionally valuable food for all members of a household.

Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief charity, created an interactive map of the country titled Map the Meal Gap. It evaluates the food insecurity rate, average cost of a meal and the additional amount of money required to meet food needs for 2009 at the national, state and county level at www.feedingamerica.org.

According to the USDA, food insecure households are not insecure all the time, as a typical household in poverty is. Such households generally experience the need to make trade-offs between paying housing or medical bills and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

People who are food insecure may live up to 185 percent above the poverty line, but a family of four at 185 percent would only be making $40,793 in yearly income, according to the site.

The map’s results were determined through various forms of data collection and statistical calculations.

To calculate the food insecurity rates, the relationship between food insecurity and indicators of food insecurity, such as poverty level, unemployment and median income, were defined at the state level and county level.

Feeding America then used these rates to reach estimates for the map.

To combat these levels of food insecurity, several local food banks and kitchens provide services to people in the area below the poverty line, as well as those in the food insecurity range who need assistance.

The Hoosier Hills Food Bank distributes food to more than 20,000 individuals each month in its service area of Monroe, Martin, Owen, Orange, Brown and Lawrence counties.

It has several food donation programs established within the organization that distribute food to not only individuals, but also smaller food banks and soup kitchens.

­— Michela Tindera

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