County has 12% food insecurity rate

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com

A national hunger relief organization reports that nearly 12% of the people in Leavenworth County suffer from food insecurity.

And Feeding America estimates the problem may be even worse now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feeding America released its annual Map the Meal Gap report earlier this year. The study used the most recent data available, which was from 2018. But the organization also released a companion report with estimates regarding how the pandemic has impacted food insecurity.

Feeding America’s website defines food insecurity as “a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.”

According to the organization’s website, the report was put together utilizing publicly available state and local data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics including factors such as unemployment and poverty and other demographic and household characteristics.

The annual Map the Meal Gap report indicated that, based on the 2018 data, food insecurity in the United States had decreased to its lowest levels since before the Great Recession began in 2007. However, the report indicates the economic downtown related to the pandemic may reverse the improvements.

According to Feeding America, the overall food insecurity rate for Leavenworth County based on the 2018 data is 11.9%. The food insecurity rate for children in Leavenworth County is 18.4%.

However, the overall food insecurity rate for Leavenworth County as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is now projected to be 17.4%. And the food insecurity rate for children is now projected to be 28.2%.

Chad Higdon, chief executive officer for Second Harvest Community Food Bank, said data from the annual Map the Meal Gap drives his organization’s strategy.

Based in St. Joseph, Missouri, Second Harvest Community Food Bank serves Leavenworth County.

“We use this data to best align our services to meet the need in every county we serve,” Higdon said in a news release.

Higdon said Second Harvest is utilizing data from Feeding America’s companion report with projections of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Blake Haynes, communications coordinator for Second Harvest, the organization distributed 1.16 million pounds of food in Leavenworth County during its last fiscal year. This equated to 966,895 meals.

“We have to continue to evaluate data and adjust to what we are seeing within each county,” Haynes said in a news release.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR