Albuquerque, NM – For the second year in a row, New Mexico ranks #1 for childhood hunger. The 2014 release of Map the Meal Gap shows the childhood hunger rate in New Mexico is 29.2% because one in three children here is growing up hungry.
Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said, “This should be a wakeup call for everyone in our state. Until we make sure that our children aren’t going to school hungry, we won’t be able to solve any of the other problems we have. If you look at indicators like our children’s abysmal test scores, health, graduation rates and future wages, childhood hunger underpins them all. Agencies like ours can’t address this issue alone. It’s a statewide problem. It needs a statewide response.”
Over the past four years, Roadrunner Food Bank’s national organization, Feeding America, has released the annual study to measure hunger and the gap of meals by state and county.
The chart shows the percentages and changes in hunger since the study was first released in 2011.
Year # of Hungry Children Percentage Rank Nationwide
2014 150,390 29.2% 1st 18.6%
2013 156,930 30.6% 1st 22.4%
2012 146,940 28.7% 4th 21.6%
2011 137,720 27.3% tied 11th 23.2%
Map the Meal Gap shows the overall hunger rate for New Mexico at 18.6%, about three percent higher than the nationwide hunger rate. New Mexico is fourth in overall hunger among states, tied with Alabama and North Carolina.
Year Number of Hungry People Percentage Rank Nationwide
2014 387,100 18.6% tied 4th 15.9%
2013 417,780 20.1% 2nd 16.4%
2012 381,690 18.5% tied 7th 16.1%
2011 336,430 17.1% tied 8th 16.6%
The top five New Mexico counties with the highest rates of hunger overall and for children are below. Luna County ranked as the hungriest county in New Mexico for both children and the overall population:
Overall Population Children
Luna – 22.9% Luna 39.7%
McKinley – 22.2% Taos – 32.6%
Cibola – 18.3% Cibola – 32.4%
Sierra – 18% Guadalupe – 32.4%
Roosevelt and San Juan – 17.7% McKinley – 32.2%
Wattenbarger continued, “Roadrunner Food Bank will launch a new response to childhood hunger beginning in the fall called the Childhood Hunger Initiative, which will reach into 16 counties. The best way to feed a hungry child is to feed the entire family. We’re going to focus our expansion on reaching children and their families at schools, but our efforts alone will not reach all of the children who are going to bed hungry every night. We hope people will step forward and help us make this a success.”
The report also estimates the meal gap by state and county as well as the food budget shortfall for low-income households. Below is the meal gap and dollar value of the meals needed in New Mexico:
Year Meal Gap Food Budget Shortfall Cost Per Meal
2014 67,795,200 $175,675,500 $2.59
2013 68,109,613 $168,911,840 $2.48
2012 65,700,160 $155,709,380 $2.37
2011 56,208,095 $136,915,050 $2.44
Map the Meal Gap 2014 is a detailed analysis of hunger done by Feeding America and is the only study available that provides county–level data of hunger in the United States. The 2014 analysis was developed by Dr. Craig Gundersen for Feeding America. Hunger rates are based on a state-level model that accounts for the population in need of food at the county and congressional district level. Additionally, Feeding America worked in collaboration with Nielsen to arrive at estimates for food-cost variation by county. Results were reviewed by the Feeding America Technical Advisory Group in order to ensure accuracy and promote transparency.
A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
About Roadrunner® Food Bank
New Mexico is ranked as one of the hungriest and most poverty stricken states in the nation. Roadrunner® Food Bank, a Feeding America member, is the largest non-profit dedicated to solving hunger in New Mexico and operates locations in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 26 million pounds of food through its own programs, a statewide network of partner agencies, and regional food banks helping nearly 40,000 children, seniors and adults weekly. Roadrunner Food Bank kept 22 million pounds of food out of landfills last year through its Food Rescue Program. For more information on solving hunger in New Mexico, visit www.rrfb.org, or follow us on social media at: www.facebook.com/roadrunner.food.bank, www.twitter.com/roadrunnerfdbnk or www.rrfb.org/blog.
About Feeding America
Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in communities across 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. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org.