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 9,660 children.
is the average cost per meal — 24% above the national average.
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 high blood pressure
have heart disease
Hunger in Colorado
In Colorado, nearly 600,000 people are food insecure — and 30% of them are children.
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).
A Hungry Nation
Food insecurity affects every county in the United States. 40 million people (almost 13% of our national population) are considered food insecure; of that number, 12.5 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.
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 (66%) 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, while counties with a majority of African Americans only make up 3% of total counties, 92% of them are considered highly food insecure.
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.
Food Insecurity Rate in the US
Counties with Highest Food Insecurity (2017)
East Carroll, Louisiana
Rural vs. Urban Hunger
Non-metropolitan counties make up 63% of all US counties, but they represent 78% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.
Health and Food Security
In counties with high food insecurity:
1 in 8 people have diabetes.
1 in 5 people have a disability.
1 in 3 people are obese.