Hunger Study Finds Food Insecurity Levels Remain Historically High

By: Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Last Updated: May 2, 2016

According to Study, 15.3% of Residents of Lake and Porter Counties Struggle with Hunger

logo-mapthemealgapThe Food Bank of Northwest Indiana announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America that details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the United States. The study reveals that 15.3 percent of the population in Lake and Porter counties is food insecure – 100,920 people, including 33,280 children.

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. Using county data from the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, Map the Meal Gap 2016 is the first Map the Meal Gap report with post-Great Recession county food-insecurity estimates.

“Map the Meal Gap shares data about the prevalence of hunger in our community,” said Arleen Peterson, Executive Director, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. “The report details weekly food-budget shortfalls, demographics and poverty levels to help us better understand the need and guide our work with partners, donors, and other stakeholders in the community to help close that gap.”

Key local findings:

  • More than 100,000 people in Lake and Porter counties have limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate food at some point during the year 81,570 (16.5%) Lake County residents and 19,350 (11.7%) Porter County residents are food insecure;
  • 33,280 (20.5%) children in Lake and Porter counties are food insecure; 34% of food insecure children are likely NOT eligible for federal nutrition assistance programs like National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast It is estimated that the Food Bank would have to provide more than 17.5 million meals to meet the food insecurity need in the Region for one year

Map the Meal Gap 2016 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 (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity.

“This new research documents the pervasiveness of hunger in every community in our nation. While the economy has improved and unemployment rates have declined, many people are still struggling to access adequate amounts of nutritious food for their families,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America.

The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The lead researcher is 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. This is the sixth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2016 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners 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

Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2016 on Twitter using #MealGap.