Map the Meal Gap

meal-gap-smallFeeding America publishes a comprehensive Map the Meal Gap study, which estimates the rate of food insecurity for both the general population and children under the age of 18. The estimates are calculated at the county and congressional-district level for the entire Feeding America network.

2019 Highlights

  • 360,530 people in San Diego County are food insecure (11% of total population; 1 in 8 people).
  • 120,360 children in San Diego County do not know where their next meal comes from (16.5% of child population; 1 in 6 children). 
  • 36% of children at risk of hunger in San Diego County are not eligible for federal nutrition programs (free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast).
  • The average cost of a meal in San Diego County is $3.23, higher than the national average of $3.02.
  • The estimated annual meal gap for Feeding San Diego’s service area is 61,524,500 meals.


Executive Summary
Child Food Insecurity



Map the Meal Gap is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food price data and analysis were provided by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights. Map the Meal Gap is supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, as well as Nielsen and The ConAgra Foods Foundation.. The lead researcher is Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.

Prior to the study’s first release in March 2011, food insecurity data was only available at the state level in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report. The study further analyzes each county’s food insecure population to determine their income eligibility for federal nutrition assistance, and also provides meal cost estimates for every county in the nation.