News Releases

New Hunger Data Shows Rise in Shelby County


Memphis, TN (June 10, 2013) — A new study finds that 204,130 people in Shelby County – including nearly 50,000 children – do not always know where they will find their next meal. In all, 22.1 percent of the population in Shelby County struggle with hunger, according to research released today by Mid-South Food Bank and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. This is an increase of one percent, or more than 8,600 people, over last year.   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.  Mid-South Food Bank is part of the Feeding America network.   By analyzing  household income levels, the study reveals that 65 percent of children at risk of hunger in Shelby County are eligible for federal nutrition programs, like free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast; but that 35 percent are not.  

 "Food insecurity and hunger are a reality for every community in our nation, including our own," said Estella Mayhue-Greer, president & CEO of Mid-South Food Bank.  "Whether it's the child who goes without lunch when school is out, the parents who go without dinner so the children can eat or the senior who must have food for their medicine to work properly, everyone needs adequate food and proper nutrition to stay healthy."  

 "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. This is the third year that Feeding America has conducted the “Map the Meal Gap” study. The findings of "Map the Meal Gap" are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; food price data and analysis were provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global information and measurement company providing insights into what consumers watch and buy. The study was generously supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Nielsen and The ConAgra Foods Foundation.   ###