Many children in Louisiana are struggling more than ever to find a source for their next meal. In addition to this harsh reality, a study released by Feeding America states Louisiana leads the country with 24.6% of children who are food insecure. From this study, it is evident in the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s 11-parish service area, 1 in 5 children are food insecure. Many of these food insecure children live in a household that does not qualify for most federal nutrition programs with statistics showing this impacting up to 38% of food insecure children in Ascension Parish alone.
(Note: Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as lack of access, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.)
“Many children have been going without the free or reduced school lunches since March due to the closure of schools or the inability to get to meal distributions as a result of the pandemic,” said Mike Manning, President and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. “We see families with children struggle every summer to make up for meals they cannot access or their school is no longer providing. However, this pre-pandemic data shows how great the need was before the pandemic. The need is more likely to be even greater now.”
Map the Meal Gap, released June 3, 2020 by Feeding America, is the only study that provides local level estimates of food insecurity across the United States from 2018 data. Pre-pandemic data reflects the lowest food insecurity rates seen since before the Greater Recession which means your local food banks are making a difference with your support. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to reverse the improvements that have occurred over the past decade.
The Feeding America study provided further insights such as 1 in 7 individuals in the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s 11-parish service area struggle with food insecurity. Along with an annual meal gap of 20.1 million meals. This means with federal assistance programs coupled with the services of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank there is still a gap of over 20 million meals a year for our clients.
For more information on how you can help the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank close this meal gap, especially during the current pandemic affecting our community, click here to view three ways to help during this time.