New study paints a detailed portrait of food insecurity in Delaware

The Food Bank of Delaware and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, released a landmark study today, “Map the Meal Gap,” providing the first detailed look at the food budget needed by families struggling with hunger in the United States and here in Delaware and a breakdown of food insecurity rates by county.

The study takes a look at “meals” in a whole new way, using county-level data on food costs from The Nielsen Company to break down the food budget shortfall of Delaware residents into an approximation of the meals missing from the tables of people at risk of hunger. In Delaware the average meal costs $2.64. Taking that cost into consideration, an additional $46,697,960 or 17,688,621 meals are needed to meet the needs of food insecure Delawareans.

Based on 2009 data from the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Census Bureau, the study also reveals that 105,810 Delawareans are food insecure or 12.2 percent of the population. Food insecurity is defined as:

  • Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food
  • Limited or uncertain ability to acquire food in socially acceptable ways

Of the 12.2 percent of Delawareans struggling with food insecurity, 45 percent of food insecure Delawareans do not qualify for federal nutrition programs. Oftentimes these individuals must rely on our network of hunger-relief partners for support.  

“We know hunger exists in every state across the nation, but it looks different from county to county, and therefore, so do the solutions,” said our President and CEO Patricia Beebe. The results of this study show that the best way for us to help people facing hunger is to understand who is hungry and why they are hungry at the community level.”

We are already taking the first step to address hunger at the community level by raising much-needed funds to expand our branch in Milford. This new data shows us that more than 42,000 residents of Kent and Sussex counties are food insecure. In order to address these needs, the expansion is needed now more than ever.

 Map the Meal Gap provides the following data in an interactive map format:

  • The percentage of the Delaware population who is food insecure.
  • A county breakdown of food insecurity rates
  • The percentage of the food insecure population in Delaware who qualify based on income for SNAP (Foods Stamps) and other federal nutrition programs.

According to Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data analyzed as part of “Map the Meal Gap”, Americans struggling with hunger estimate they would need about $56 more each month on average during the months that they are food insecure to address the shortages in their food budget. 

The findings of “Map the Meal Gap” are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and food price data from The Nielsen Company. The study was supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.

“Map the Meal Gap” was conducted using well-established, transparent methods. Data were analyzed by Feeding America in partnership with Dr. Craig Gundersen, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.

 A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available on Feeding America’s web site at


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Filed under Advocate, Face of Hunger, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Milford Expansion, Poverty, Programs

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