Local Hunger
Hunger in Colorado
Hunger in the US

Hunger and Food Insecurity

What is hunger?

Hunger is the personal, physical sensation of discomfort from a lack of food. Hunger can also lead to a lack of concentration, irritability, and a host of social and behavioral issues — particularly in children. Individuals who are food insecure may experience hunger.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. So, while hunger is related to food insecurity, food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food in a household.

Community Food Share uses the terms “hunger” and “food insecurity” interchangeably.

Hunger in Boulder and Broomfield Counties

Our service area includes Boulder and Broomfield Counties. The two counties are often considered to be quite wealthy — but hunger affects our neighbors here just like the rest of the state (and country).


people are hungry in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.


of children are food insecure — that’s 7,310 children.


is the average cost per meal — 26% above the national average of $3.09.

Age of Our Participants

The Reasons Behind the Need

In a typical month, about 90% of our survey respondents indicated they get some or even most of the food their families consume from food assistance programs (like Community Food Share, food pantries, school programs, WIC, or SNAP). Why may this be?

One reason is lack of sufficient income: it’s expensive to live in this part of Colorado. In Boulder County, a family of four needs to earn at least $86,000 annually to make ends meet without public or private assistance. Comparatively, the majority of families served by Community Food Share and its Partner Agencies survive on an annual income of $50,196…or less.

Beyond income, however, people may need to access food assistance for a variety of reasons. Whether they lost a job, experience terminal illness, or have become a caretaker for other individuals, Community Food Share and other local hunger relief organizations are here to help.

Local Hunger and Health

Nutritious food plays an essential role in health — so a lack of sufficient food can lead to devastating health outcomes. How do health and hunger relate among Community Food Share’s participants? Among the people surveyed who we serve through direct distribution:


have diabetes


have high blood pressure


have heart disease

More Resources on Local Hunger

Hunger in Colorado

In Colorado, more than 566,000 people are food insecure — and 27% of them are children.

1 in 8 children

struggles with hunger

1 in 10 people

may not know where to get their next meal

Individuals facing hunger in Colorado need, on average,


more per year to meet food needs

Map of Colorado Food Banks' Service Areas

Feeding Colorado: Colorado’s Five Food Banks

Community Food Share has four Feeding America sister food banks in Colorado: Care and Share Food Bank, Food Bank of the Rockies, Weld Food Bank, and Larimer County Food Bank. Together, we provide food for every county in the state and form the Feeding Colorado network.

We’re not the only ones fighting hunger in the state, however: hundreds of food pantries and other agencies are providing food for people in need (including our Partner Agencies).

Logo of Care and Share Food Bank
Logo of Food Bank of the Rockies

More Resources on Statewide Hunger

A Hungry Nation

Food insecurity affects every county in the United States. 37 million people (almost 12% of our national population) are considered food insecure; of that number, 11.2 million are children.


of people in every US county are food insecure. No county is completely food secure.


of people who are food insecure are unlikely to qualify for most federal food assistance.


is the cost of an average meal in the US. The average meal cost in some counties is double.

$19.5 billion

is the additional amount required to meet all basic food needs of people at risk of hunger.

National Hunger, Poverty, and Race

Some areas of the country experience higher rates of food insecurity than others. For example, four of the five counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in Mississippi. The majority (64%) of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity also experience persistent poverty, which the USDA defines as at least 20% of the population living in poverty for more than 30 years.

Furthermore, some race and ethnic groups, like African Americans and American Indians, experience a greater risk of food insecurity — especially in counties with persistent poverty. For instance, the population of Jefferson County, Mississippi, is 86% African American, faces an unemployment rate that is three times the national county average, and struggles with poverty at a rate that is almost three times that among all counties. As a result, the local rate of food insecurity is the highest in the nation (30%).

Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap

An excellent resource for national hunger facts is Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Every year, Feeding America conducts the Map the Meal Gap study. The study improves our understanding of how food insecurity and food costs vary at the local level. Refer to it to learn more about hunger in the US.

Map of National Hunger
Visit the interactive map

Food Insecurity Rate in the US


Counties with Highest Food Insecurity (2017)

  • Jefferson, Mississippi

  • Holmes, Mississippi

  • Claiborne, Mississippi

  • East Carroll Parish, Louisiana

  • Issaquena, Mississippi

Rural vs. Urban Hunger

Rural counties make up 63% of all US counties, but they represent 87% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.

Health and Food Security

In counties with high food insecurity:

1 in 7 people have diabetes.

1 in 7 people experiencing a high rate of food insecurity have diabetes.

1 in 5 people have a disability.

1 in 5 People

1 in 4 report poor or fair health.

More Resources on National Hunger

If you have additional questions about hunger in Boulder and Broomfield Counties, please contact:

Julia McGee, Director of Communications
(303) 652-3663 ext. 227