During the summer we raise awareness about the stress on low-income families when children are at home and not getting meals at school. Children are missing the lunch, and often the breakfast, they receive at school every week day. Food shelves and other hunger relief organizations help provide those missing meals.
Another way to think of missing meals is the gap between the meals people provide for themselves through wages or other earned income, the meals provided by government sources like food stamps, school meals and WIC, the meals provided by charity such as food shelves and food bank programs and the amount of food required to meet minimum standards. A study done by Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank in St. Paul, an released in March of this year provides county by county data on how large this gap is in Minnesota. Check out www.missingmeals.org to see the full report.
The report shows that in the seven counties served by Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, individuals who’s incomes are at 185% or less of the federal poverty guidelines, provide between 59% and 65% of their meals through their own cash resources. Public sources: federal food stamps (SNAP), school meals, summer feeding, WIC, Commodity programs (Mac & Naps, TEFAP, and state food shelf funding, provide between 15% and 26% of their meals. Non-profits like food shelves, community meals, afterschool snack programs and other food bank programs provide between 4% and 6% of the meals required.
The gap between these food sources and minimum food requirements are the “Missing Meals”. In north central Minnesota, the gap is between 8% in Mille Lacs county and 17% in Aitkin county. Our challenge is to find ways to fill these gaps and provide people with adequate food.