Tackling the issue of hunger is both challenging and inspiring — it’s why we work tirelessly at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to feed people in need and mobilize our community to eliminate hunger. The release of this year’s Map the Meal Gap data is a stark reminder of our challenge and the need for this continued effort.

At the Food Bank, we think it’s necessary to gather the most precise and up-to-date information about the issue of hunger in our 11-county service area. Awareness of this information and understanding the facts allows our staff and advocates to more effectively target our efforts, educate our community and speak out about hunger to our elected officials.

This year’s Map the Meal Gap data, just released by our national partner Feeding America, revealed these key local findings. In our service area:

  • The Meal Gap grew from 57,010,400 in 2012 to 59,593,900 in 2013.
  • The overall food insecurity rate increased from 13.4% to 13.8%.
  • The child food insecurity rate increased from 19.2% to 20.2%.
  • The number of food insecure individuals increased from 325,520 to 336,690.
  • The number of food insecure children increased from 93,980 to 97,540.
  • The cost of a meal increased from $2.75 to $2.79.

To decrease this Meal Gap and reduce food insecurity in southwestern Pennsylvania will take all of us working together. By recognizing the size of the challenge, and what factors impact it year in and year out, we can we work throughout our region to develop effective and efficient ways to meet it.

This new information is humbling, as it shows that growing numbers of people in our community struggle with meeting a basic human need. What we can do — and will do — is use this information to further inspire action in our government and our community to strengthen support for food banks and hunger-relief programs. We hope you will join us in sustaining and growing this important effort.

The following resources make it easy for you to make a difference:

Donate food or funds.

Volunteer your time.

Speak out to your elected officials.

Learn more about hunger in your area.