USDA Food Security Data Release Shows Maine’s Hunger Problem Continues to Grow
Maine’s rates of food insecurity and chronic hunger both rose in 2014
Auburn, ME – The United States Department of Agriculture released its annual survey of Food Security in U.S. Households and the results show an escalating hunger problem in Maine. Despite the best efforts of the charitable food assistance network, Maine’s food insecurity rate rose from 15.1 percent in 2013 to 16.2 percent in 2014.
Food insecurity refers to a household’s lack of access to adequate amounts of nutritious food throughout the year. Maine now ranks 12th in the nation and 1st in New England for food insecurity.
The rate of very low food security in Maine, which indicates an ongoing or chronic struggle with hunger, also rose from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 7.5 percent in 2014.
“While these numbers are disheartening, we know they would be far worse without the hard work of hunger relief agencies across the state,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “This data shows us that charity alone cannot solve the problem of hunger in Maine and that when food assistance programs are cut, more people go hungry.”
According to Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap research, Maine has a “meal gap” of 36 million meals per year, meaning if this number of additional meals were available, all Maine households would be food secure.
Good Shepherd Food Bank distributed more than 17.5 million meals through its network of partner food pantries, meal sites, and schools in 2014. The organization’s distribution has grown dramatically in recent years – up from 9.8 million meals in 2010. The organization has a goal of distributing 21 million meals a year to Mainers facing hunger by 2018.
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
As the largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for Mainers facing hunger by distributing nutritious food to 600 partner agencies across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, and youth programs. Together with its network, the Food Bank leads a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, and strategic partnerships. In 2014, the Food Bank distributed more than 17.5 million meals to families, children, and seniors in need throughout Maine. Website: www.feedingmaine.org; Phone: (207) 782-3554; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.