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In The Bank

Posted on Friday, June 15th, 2012

Childhood hunger continues to be a serious issue in Western Massachusetts and all across the nation, as 1 in 5 children in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties live with food insecurity.

This and other startling statistics are included in the recently released Map the Meal Gap study from Feeding America, the national organization of food banks.  Map the Meal Gap offers a unique view of hunger across America, showing the on the national, state, and county level.

Recently this Map the Meal Gap data has been updated to include the most current information (data for 2010), and the numbers show that the battle against hunger is far from over.  Nationwide, the overall food insecurity rate sits at 16.1%, for children specifically that percentage is an alarming 21.6%.

The food insecurity rates for Massachusetts in particular are lower than that of the nation as a whole, but the numbers are still far from acceptable.  Overall food insecurity rates sit at 12.3%, the rate for children being 16.8%.

However, when you break the state down further and look at the counties served by the state’s three primary food banks the numbers are far more shocking.  The region served by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties) has by far the highest rates of hunger in the state.

Overall rates of hunger in these four counties match that of the state as a whole: 12.3%.  It is the number of food insecure children in the region that is truly alarming. One in five children in the area served by The Food Bank of Western Mass. face hunger, the highest rate of childhood food insecurity in the state.  As we approach summer, these numbers take on a new, stark meaning when the realization that many of these children rely on school meals for most of their caloric intake. In the summer, these meals are not available, and families have tough times replacing two to three meals five days a week.

This data provided by the Map the Meal Gap shows that the need for food assistance has not waned, but is as important as it has ever been in the past.  Only through continued support for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and our member agencies can we hope to effectively reduce hunger in our community.  For more information about the Map the Meal Gap visit Feeding America, and to find out how you can help the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in its continued fight against hunger visit our donation page.

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