Montana Food Bank Network announces the release of Map the Meal Gap 2018, the latest report by Feeding America on food insecurity at the state and county level. Map the Meal Gap 2018 reveals that in 2016 the rate of food insecurity, particularly for children, dropped across Montana in comparison to previous years. Yet, food insecurity, or the inability to access food in a consistent manner, remains at an unacceptably high rate for our neighbors and children.
While it is clear that we have significant work to do, the new figures show a notable decline in our statewide numbers. Seventeen percent of Montana children live in homes experiencing food insecurity – an almost two percent drop from the previous year—which ranges at the county level from 12.0% in Daniels County to 27.5% in Mineral County. The overall rate of food insecurity in Montana is 12.3%, which is the lowest level of food insecurity since the first Map the Meal Gap report in 2009. This level is down from our previous rate of 13.0% and a peak of 14.9% in 2011, following the economic recession.
We are hopeful that this downward trend is a reflection of a strengthening economy and that we continue to see fewer Montanans struggling with hunger. We also recognize the hard work and collaboration between Montana’s hunger and poverty-fighting organizations, working together to meet the need for food while also addressing the root causes of hunger. In the meantime, we continue to concentrate on the nearly 129,000 Montanans, including nearly 39,000 children, who live in food insecure homes.
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 (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.