A new study finds that 91,620 people in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties – including 31,430 children – do not always know where they will find their next meal. In all, 16.4% percent of the population in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties struggle with hunger, according to research released today by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
The findings are from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” study, which estimates the rate of food insecurity for both the general population and, separately, for children under the age of 18. The estimates are calculated at both the county and congressional-district level for the entire U.S. Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley is part of the Feeding America network.
"Food insecurity is one of the leading public health challenges in the United States,” said Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, an international food insecurity expert and the lead researcher of the “Map the Meal Gap” study. “We undertook this research to demonstrate the extent and prevalence of food insecurity at both the county and congressional-district level. This data has the potential to redefine the way service providers and policy makers address food insecurity in the communities they serve.”
“We are particularly concerned about children who are under-nourished. A child who does not receive adequate nutrition may experience behavioral problems, have difficulty concentrating in school, and has an increased risk of medical problems. Lack of adequate nutrition in children, for even a brief period of time, may also cause permanent physical and developmental impairments,” Gundersen said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million people nationwide are food insecure.