OKLAHOMA CITY – A new study indicates that children in central and western Oklahoma are more likely to be food insecure than many other spots across the country.
According to Map the Meal Gap 2019, food insecurity exists in each of the 53 counties in the Regional Food Bank’s service area. The study shows that children in Oklahoma have a food insecurity rate of 20.9 percent compared to 17 percent nationwide.
“No child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the Regional Food Bank. “Support from our communities is important in continuing the work of the Regional Food Bank. For every one dollar donated we are able to provide four meals to chronically hungry children, seniors on a limited income and hardworking families working to makes ends meet.”
Overall, Payne County residents had the highest food insecurity rate in Oklahoma with 19.5 percent.
The study also found that 35 percent of Oklahoma residents who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements. Officials say that means many households must rely on charitable food assistance from community agencies like the Regional Food Bank.
“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger, and it is within our collective power to change that and ensure that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America. “The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is investing in our nation’s future by helping to provide over 146 million meals to children every year. Still, Map the Meal Gap highlights that more must be done. Together food banks, corporations, policymakers, donors, volunteers and advocates can solve hunger.”
“I encourage everyone to visit the website, map.feedingamerica.org, to find out what hunger looks like in their community and get involved to be part of the solution,” Babineaux-Fontenot continued. “One way is to tell Congress to invest in kids during Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation and increase access to food for kids during the summer. Your voice matters and we can make a difference.”
Map the Meal Gap 2019 used 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.