Feeding South Florida Reveals Estimated 138.9 Million Meals Shortfall Per Year in South Florida Through Map the Meal Gap 2015 Updated Analysis of Food Insecurity in the US

Feeding South Florida to Host “Get the Facts: Building Strong Communities” Listening Sessions in May to Discuss Updated Numbers and Share Release of Study’s County-Level Findings

Pembroke Park, Fla. – April 15, 2015 The updated Map the Meal Gap study recently released by Feeding South Florida™ and Feeding America® reveals new findings in the mission to end hunger in South Florida. The study provides statistics about the population of those struggling with food insecurity, or not knowing from where they will receive their next meal, throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Map the Meal Gap 2015 is a detailed landmark analysis of food insecurity for every county and congressional district in the United States, and the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity across the country. The study features a new design and new infographics, as well as an updated interactive map, with a new responsive design that is mobile and tablet friendly.

A summary of the 2015 Map the Meal Gap findings is available at http://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2013/overall/florida/organization/feeding-south-florida.

In addition to Map the Meal Gap, Feeding South Florida, in conjunction with Feeding America, participated in the quadrennial Hunger in America 2014 study, which looks at food access. The overall national and state findings from the HIA study are published at www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/our-research/hunger-in-america/.

Feeding South Florida will host “Get the Hunger Facts: Building Strong Communities” listening sessions to discuss the state of hunger in South Florida (Map the Meal Gap and Hunger in America), review Feeding South Florida’s five-year strategic plan, the current state of hunger in South Florida, and discuss next steps for ending it. The sessions will take place on the following dates from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.:

  • May 19: Palm Beach County
  • May 20: Broward County
  • May 26: Miami-Dade & Monroe Counties

The Map the Meal Gap study reports a food budget shortfall of 138,951,200 meals, or $18.27 per person per week (a total shortfall of $435,048,000 per year) in South Florida. These are meals missing from the tables of the 785,040 people (13.7 percent of the South Florida population) at risk of hunger in South Florida. Most striking about these statistics is that 22.9 percent of children in South Florida are food insecure, meaning 280,630 children go to bed hungry.

An analysis of the study reveals that although less people struggle with food insecurity, the cost of a meal has increased. This reflects a larger trend: The cost of living is increasing, and those who struggle to put food on the table have larger bills to pay and less money to go towards nutritious food. While the population in Feeding South Florida’s quad-county service area has increased, those in need of food assistance has decreased. While this shows emergency food assistance and government benefits programs work, it also shows that those in need are more so than before.

With the updated study, Feeding America, in collaboration with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, takes a look at “meals” in a whole new way. It uses county-level data on food costs from The Nielsen Company to break down the food budget shortfall of South Florida residents into an approximation of the meals missing from the tables of people at risk of hunger in South Florida each year. The study provides an updated look at:

  • Food insecurity rates by county and Congressional District.
  • Percent of food insecure population likely eligible for federal nutrition programs by county and Congressional District.
  • Number of food insecure people by county and Congressional District.
  • Food cost variation for every county across the nation.

Statistics revealed for counties served by Feeding South Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe) include:

  • 79 percent of the food insecure population in South Florida qualify based on income for SNAP (foods stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 21 percent do NOT qualify for federal nutrition programs, and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.
  • $3.13 is the average cost of a meal in South Florida.
  • Palm Beach County has the highest percentage of food insecure individuals and children in South Florida (15.1 percent).
  • Broward County has the lowest percentage of children who are likely to be eligible for federal nutrition assistance programs (35 percent).
  • Miami-Dade County has the lowest percentage of food insecure individuals and children in South Florida (12 percent).
  • Monroe County has the highest food cost index in South Florida at $3.63 per meal, and the highest weekly budget shortfall per food at $21.15.

Statistics broken down by county:

Palm Beach County

  • 15.1 percent of the Palm Beach County population is food insecure, with 202,110 people not knowing from where they will get their next meal.
  • 69 percent of the food insecure population in Palm Beach County qualify based on income for SNAP (food stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 31 percent do not and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.
  • $3.19 is the average price per meal in Palm Beach County.
  • The food budget shortfall in Palm Beach County per person per week is $18.61, with a total shortfall of $114,111,000 or 35,773,200 meals.
  • 6 percent of children in Palm Beach County are food insecure, meaning 63,660 children go to bed hungry.

Broward County

  • 15 percent of the Broward County population is food insecure, with 266,920 people not knowing from where they will get their next meal.
  • 73 percent of the food insecure population in Broward County qualify based on income for SNAP (food stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 27 percent do not and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.
  • $3.12 is the average price per meal in Broward County.
  • The food budget shortfall in Broward County per person per week is $18.22, with a total shortfall of $147,548,000 or 47,244,500 meals.
  • 7 percent of children in Broward County are food insecure, meaning 81,650 children go to bed hungry.

 Miami-Dade County

  • 12 percent of the Miami-Dade County population is food insecure, with 306,330 people not knowing from where they will get their next meal.
  • 92 percent of the food insecure population in Miami-Dade County qualify based on income for SNAP (Foods Stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 8 percent do not and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.
  • $3.17 is the average price per meal in Miami-Dade County.
  • The food budget shortfall in Miami-Dade County per person per week is $18.47, with a total shortfall of $171,609,000 or 54,220,000 meals.
  • 3 percent of children in Miami-Dade County are food insecure, meaning 132,810 children go to bed hungry.

Monroe County

  • 13 percent of the Monroe County population is food insecure, with 9,680 people not knowing from where they will get their next meal.
  • 71 percent of the food insecure population in Monroe County qualify based on income for SNAP (food stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, while 29 percent do not and often must rely on emergency food assistance programs and need better wages and employment opportunities to help them meet their basic needs.
  • $3.63 is the average price per meal in Monroe County.
  • The food budget shortfall in Monroe County per person per week is $21.15, with a total shortfall of $6,211,000 or 1,713,300 meals.
  • 5 percent of children in Monroe County are food insecure, meaning 2,510 children go to bed hungry.

“Although the overall number of food insecure individuals has decreased in South Florida, the average cost of a meal in South Florida has increased, meaning most of the families and households we serve must make the difficult choice between paying for food and paying for housing, utilities or much-needed medication. Our friends and neighbors should not have to choose,” said Paco Vélez, president & CEO of Feeding South Florida.

Feeding America first published the Map the Meal Gap project in early 2011, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local level. In August 2011, with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, child food insecurity data was added to the project.

As one of 202 food banks in the Feeding America network, Feeding South Florida is a leader in hunger-related research and held to high standards of food safety, civil rights, and stewardship while carrying out its mission to end hunger in South Florida. In addition to leading research efforts, regular and routine audits from Feeding America, AIB, USDA, DOH and DOT distinguish Feeding South Florida from food banks that are not affiliated with Feeding America. The largest food bank in Florida, serving 30 percent of the state’s food insecure population, Feeding South Florida continues to increase the amount of food it distributes by at least 10 percent each year. In fiscal year 2011–2012, it distributed 29.6 million pounds; in fiscal year 2012–2013, it distributed 34 million pounds; in fiscal year 2013–2014, it distributed 37 million pounds. Feeding South Florida anticipates it will distribute close to 40 million pounds of food this fiscal year.

To view a copy of the local findings, click here.