New data shows 16,570 individuals do not know where they will find their next meal
That means 17.2 percent of the city’s population is at risk of hunger, according to research provided by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
The findings are from Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study, which estimates the rate of food insecurity for both the general population and, separately, for children under the age of 18.
By analyzing household income levels, the study reveals that 75 percent of children at risk of hunger in Roanoke city are eligible for federal nutrition programs, like free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast, but that 25 percent are not.
The estimates are calculated at both the local and congressional-district level for the entire United States. Feeding America Southwest Virginia, serving 26 counties and 10 cities in the region, is part of the Feeding America network. Overall, one in six people in southwest Virginia struggle to put food on their table.
“This new data confirms what we’ve been seeing – that too many people are at risk of hunger right here at home,” said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding America Southwest Virginia. “Food insecurity is one of the leading public health challenges in the United States, and it’s affecting a large population in Roanoke.
“We are particularly concerned about children who are under-nourished,” Irvine continued. “Children who do not receive adequate nutrition may experience behavioral problems, have difficulty concentrating in school, and have an increased risk of medical problems. Lack of adequate nutrition in children, for even a brief period of time, may also cause permanent physical and developmental impairments.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million people nationwide are food insecure.
This is the third year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study. The findings are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; food price data and analysis were provided by Nielsen, a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy. The study was supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Nielsen and The ConAgra Foods Foundation. For additional data and maps, visit www.feedingamerica.com/mapthegap.