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Food Finders Food Bank recently announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2018, the latest report by Feeding America on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Map the Meal Gap 2018 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Food Finders Food Bank’s service area. Additionally, 59% of residents of Jasper County who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements, just as Congress looks at further restricting eligibility for these programs through the Farm Bill.

Overall food insecurity in North Central Indiana ranges from a low of 9.9% of the population in White County up to 15.8% in Tippecanoe County.

The analysis also finds that, in seven counties across North Central Indiana, most of the people facing hunger are unable to participate in federal nutrition programs. In Jasper County, 59% of people struggling with hunger may not qualify for food assistance.

“Food Finders has increased our food distributions in the past two years and it is wonderful to see that progress has been made towards ending hunger,” said Katy Bunder, President/CEO of Food Finders Food Bank. “The Food Bank is deeply concerned that the proposed cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program will negatively impact the people we serve and increase hunger in our community, and our food bank will not be able to meet the additional demand. For every meal we provide, the SNAP program is able to provide 12 meals. To end hunger in our community we must have federal programs and charitable programs working together.”

Food Finders Food Bank is one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger. In 2017, Food Finders Food Bank distributed more than 9 million pounds of food. Food Finders distributes food to families, children, seniors and veterans through the following programs: Agency Partner, Mobile Pantry, BackPack, Summer Food Service Program, Senior Grocery, Education and Resource Coordination, and the J.P. Lisack Community Food Pantry. Food Finders has a new SNAP Outreach Program focusing on Tippecanoe, Howard, Miami, Cass and Fulton.

“The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks works hard to deliver more than 4 billion meals annually to people facing hunger, yet the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves 12 meals for every one meal provided through our network,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “As Congress debates legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill, programs like SNAP must be protected and strengthened so that people facing hunger and trying to make ends meet have the essential food resources they need.”

Map the Meal Gap 2018 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Key local findings:

• The average weekly food budget shortfall per food insecure person is only $16.92

• Following the national trend, in every county across Food Finders’ service area, children are at a higher risk of food insecurity compared to the overall population

The study’s findings underscore the depth of need that remains in communities in North Central Indiana and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement. Food insecurity is a measure defined by the USDA as lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group is the lead researcher of Map the Meal Gap 2018.

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

The Map the Meal Gap 2018 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.

Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2018 on Twitter using #MealGap.

Food Finders Food Bank

Since 1981, Food Finders Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, has worked to provide full service programs that meet the nutritional needs of thousands of hungry families in North Central Indiana. The food bank operates programs to cost-effectively secure donated and purchased food, provide food to families in need, and educate the community about the efficient use of food resources. Food Finders distributes more than nine million pounds of food annually; throughout the 16 counties it serves. For more information or to make a donation, contact Food Finders Food Bank, Inc. at 765.471.0062 or visit www.food-finders.org.

Feeding America

Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through food pantries and meal programs in communities throughout America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.