Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Turn for the Worse: New Mexico Now the Most Food Insecure State for Kids

I guess we could call it a case of good timing  Feeding America released its Map the Meal Gap report on the day that we were scheduled to visit our congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.  The study estimates the rate of food insecurity by state and county for the general population and also children. It also estimates the number of meals missing from each state and county as well as the dollar shortfall.

But the report's statistics for New Mexico were hardly the type of news we wanted to share our fellow Bread for the World advocates. The report showed that New Mexico now ranked first in the number of hungry children nationwide.  But the ranking was not is important as the fact that nearly 10,000 more children were hungry than in 2012.  And the report showed that the number of New Mexico residents facing food insecurity had increased by more than 36,000 from 2012. 

The findings of "Map the Meal Gap" are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by The Nielsen Company (NYSE: NLSN), a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy. The study was supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.

“The results from this study are appalling. It’s shocking to learn that a third of our children aren’t able to access enough food to eat on a regular basis," said Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque.  "Hunger continues to be a silent issue in our community and more people need to get involved and take action. We want our children to do better in school, yet they don’t have the meals necessary to fuel their bodies and perform well.”

The information, however, did give us additional ammunition for our arguments to congressional aides that funding for safety-net nutrition programs should be protected.  See our our New Mexico Lobby Day report and the list of congressional offices that were visited.
Hunger is at an all-time high right here in our own state. All of us should be completely horrified at these latest figures. As a community, more support is clearly essential.  -Melody Wattenbarger, President and CEO, Roadrunner Food Bank
The Map the Meal Gap report also tracks hunger statistics by county. Bernalillo County (primarily Albuquerque) has the largest number of hungry people with 112,090 or 17.1% followed by Doña Ana County (primarily Las Cruces) at 18.1% or 37,280 people.  These are in terms of total numbers and not percentage of the population that suffers from food insecurity.  (Those figures are in a table below).

“Hunger is at an all-time high right here in our own state. All of us should be completely horrified at these latest figures. As a community, more support is clearly essential," said Wattenbarger. "Not only do we need to ensure charitable hunger programs have the tools needed to respond, but we also need to appropriately fund and protect federal hunger programs such as SNAP, WIC and others. We can no longer ignore that so many people suffer from hunger. This shouldn’t be a silent issue any more.”

Here are a couple of tables with statistics from the report for the three years in which the study has been conducted.

Childhood Hunger
Year     Number of Hungry Children     Percentage     Rank     Nationwide%
2013    156,930                                         30.6%               1st              22.4%%
2012    146,940                                          28.7%               4th             21.6%%
2011    137,720                                          27.3%           tied 11th         23.2%

Hungry People in New Mexico
Year   Number of Hungry People     Percentage        Nationwide%
2013     417,780                                      20.1%                  16.4%%
2012    381,690                                       18.5%                  16.1%%
2011    336,430                                       17.1%                  16.6%%

Counties with the Highest Percentage of Food Insecurity
Overall Population                            Children
Luna - 25.4%                                  Luna – 43.2%
McKinley – 21.2%                          Guadalupe – 36.8%
Guadalupe and Mora – 19.4%       McKinley – 30.5%
Torrance – 18.7%                          Cibola – 30.1%
Cibola – 18.2%                              Hidalgo – 28.9%

Statistics provided by Roadrunner Food Bank

No comments: