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Map The Meal Gap

PHILADELPHIA PA--Since 2011, Feeding America has conducted its annual Map the Meal Gap study to provide its member food banks with details about food insecurity on a local level.  Food insecurity is a measure of access to enough food for a healthy and active life. From the data now available, which shows food insecurity rates for 2020, we are able to see how COVID, the government provided support, and our efforts have impacted food security.

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courtesy of dreamstime.com

The Map the Meal Gap report gives us a glimpse beyond the national and state-level data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.  Feeding America can localize this information down to the county and congressional district levels.  This allows Philabundance to look more closely at our nine-county service area that covers two states.    

From the 2020 data, we see: 

  • In the Philabundance service area, overall, 10.5%, or 1 in 10, people were food insecure.  This is an increase of one percentage point from 2019.   
  • Overall, child food insecurity increased 25%, from a rate of 13.8% in 2019 to 17.3% in 2020. 
County  2019 Food Insecurity  2020 Food Insecurity  2019 Child Food Insecurity  2020 Child Food Insecurity 
Pennsylvania 
Bucks  7.2%  7.3%  8.5%  8.7% 
Chester  6.3%  6%  6.8%  6.3% 
Delaware  8.5%  9.1%  12.8%  15.9% 
Montgomery  6.9%  7%  8%  8.9% 
Philadelphia  14.4%  15.8%  24.2%  30.9% 
New Jersey 
Burlington  6.6%  7.1%  8.8%  9.7% 
Camden  9.5%  10.9%  13%  16.6% 
Gloucester  7.5%  8.2%  8.9%  9.3% 
Salem  10.7%  11.7%  15.5%  17.6% 

As with the national and statewide data, Philabundance was surprised in part not to see large increases in food insecurity across the board.  Philabundance has more than doubled the amount of food we provide while hearing from our partners they still need more.   

While we see that food insecurity, in general, may not have drastically increased, we know that hunger has continued to rise.  We see this in the data from Feeding America that at least 60 million people (1 in 5) nationally turned to the emergency food system in 2020. This was a 50% increase compared to 2019.   

The data for the Philabundance service area, unfortunately, follows the national trend that children and people of color experience food insecurity at a higher rate.  Philadelphia saw a 30% increase in child food insecurity, while Delaware and Camden's counties saw an increase of 25%.  Across our area, Black and Hispanic people experienced food insecurity 3 to 5 times more than White people. While White people saw a decrease across our area in food insecurity between 2019 and 2020, food insecurity increased across the board almost entirely for people of color.  

County  2020 Food Insecurity  2020 Food Insecurity – Black Persons  2020 Food Insecurity Hispanic Persons  2020 Food Insecurity – White non-Hispanic Persons 
Pennsylvania 
Bucks  7.3%  15%  17%  4%  
Chester  6%  19%  16%  4% 
Delaware  9.1%  20%  18%  6% 
Montgomery  7%  15%  16%  4% 
Philadelphia  15.8%  23%  25%  10% 
New Jersey 
Burlington  7.1%  10%  16%  3% 
Camden  10.9%  17%  21%  4% 
Gloucester  8.2%  13%  16%  3% 
Salem  11.7%  22%  24%  5% 

The data has shown a widening of racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to food insecurity as the country continues to work through a global health pandemic. 

With more people struggling to make ends meet and the growing inflation, we know our work at Philabundance is more important than ever. The government assistance and support of our donors has allowed Philabundance to expand our efforts and provided much-needed relief to the people we serve.  We are concerned with what may happen as pandemic-era supports and programs could be rolled back. We are committed to continuing to feed people who need it and work to focus our efforts on mitigating the disparities that clearly are continuing to get worse.  

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