Second Harvest of South Georgia announced the release of Feeding America's annual Map the Meal Gap study, which details the rate of 'food insecurity' in South Georgia.
The organization says that 'Map the Meal Gap 2015' results reveal that food insecurity affects the most vulnerable, including nearly a third of all children in our area. Overall food insecurity across the United States ranges from a low of 4% to 33% in some parts of the country.
Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Georgia's Second Congressional District ranks third in the nation for child food insecurity and leads the state in both the general population and among children.
The organization says 26% of people do not have a stable source of food, including 33.9% of the district's children. The Second District, represented by Congressman Sanford L. Bishop (D-Albany), is home to six of the top ten most food insecure counties in Georgia.
The study also shows that:
• Dougherty County has the 2nd highest rate of food insecurity in Georgia at 26.7% and is among the top 1% in the nation.
• Ben Hill County* is 13th in the nation and 3rd in the state for child food insecurity at 38.8%, with Crisp at 20th nationally and 4th statewide with 35.9%.
• Georgia ranks fourth in the nation for food insecurity (18.7%) and fifth among children (28.2%).
The Second Harvest regional food bank has continued to expand its programs in response to area need - distributing more than 20 million pounds of food, which is 14.6 million meals in the last 12 months and feeding approximately 3,000 children each day. Second Harvest serves 30 counties from its four branches, which are located in Albany, Valdosta, Thomasville and Douglas. The food bank works with more than 450 partner charities across South Georgia to help provide a stable, affordable source of food and groceries to those in need.
“At Second Harvest we are constantly working to alleviate hunger in South Georgia,” said Frank Richards, Chief Executive Officer for the food bank. “This is a problem that we can solve, but it requires collaboration across the entire community.” Richards also noted that Second Harvest is actively recruiting partner organizations who want to get involved in the fight against hunger; groups or individuals who have feeding programs or ministries are invited to contact the food bank to find out more about how Second Harvest can help.
Map the Meal Gap 2015 helps hunger-relief organizations like Second Harvest of South Georgia better quantify the economic issues that affect the communities they serve. The study is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013.
The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is supported by Founding Sponsor Howard G. Buffett Foundation as well as the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. It is a detailed analysis of the nation's food insecurity. An interactive map is available that allows viewers to explore the issue of hunger in South Georgia and across the country.
“Map the Meal Gap 2015 provides unique insight into the prevalence of food insecurity in each county and congressional district in our nation,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “It will help policy makers and our elected officials understand the challenges they face in addressing hunger in the communities they serve.”