Map the Meal Gap

Food Insecurity in Larimer County

For the past three years, Feeding America, in collaboration with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, has conducted Map the Meal Gap, a in-depth analysis of local level food insecurity in the United States. Map the Meal Gap sheds a new light on the way hunger is evaluated by looking at the gap between food insecurity and food security.

In Larimer County, an estimated gap of 6.53 million meals are missing each year or a collective food budget shortfall of $19.54 million. The study reports 13.5 percent of the population in Larimer County is food insecure which equates to 40,080 residents.The study takes a look at ‘meals’ by using county-level data on food costs from The Nielsen Company to break down the food budget shortfall of our residents into an approximation of the meals missing from the tables of people at risk of hunger in Larimer County each year.

This study brings to light the need for better wages and employment opportunities for the County’s food insecure population to help them meet their basic needs. Based on new research by The Nielsen Company, the average price per meal in Larimer County is $2.99. The annual “Meal Gap” in Larimer County collectively equates to 6.53 million meals that are missing.


Map the Meal Gap provides data for Larimer County and every county in the United States in an interactive map format. “The interactive map allows policy makers, state agencies, corporate partners and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community by community level,” said Pezzani.

According to Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data analyzed as part of Map the Meal Gap, people struggling with hunger estimate they would need about $16.07 more each week on average during the months that they are food insecure to address the shortages in their food budget. 

The findings of Map the Meal Gap are based on statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and food price data from The Nielsen Company. The study was supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Nielsen.

Fact Sheets

Local Press Release 

Interactive Map



Child Food Insecurity
Map the Meal Gap also analyzes child food insecurity. Results from the current study report that 17.7% of children or 11,200 children under the age of 18 living in Larimer County are struggling with hunger.The study also reveals that there are children struggling with hunger in every county in America. Nationally, while one in six Americans overall is food insecure, the rate for children is much higher: nearly one in four children is food insecure.

Child nutrition programs are key tactics in fighting hunger locally at the FBLC. Each summer the Food Bank serves more than 30,000 meals at Kids Cafe sites throughout the county. Last year, the Food Bank provided more tahn 74,000 meals, 61,000 snacks and 18,000 weekend food packs for low-income children.

“We’ve enhanced our child nutrition programs by adding Kids Cafe sites, expanding geographical outreach in Estes Park, and partnering more comprehensively with our area school districts through Kids Link. These methods have all collectively widened our ability to reach greater pockets of children in need in Larimer County,” said Pezzani. “But, as this report reminds, our work continues.”


o 49% (51% are not eligible) of children in Larimer County who are food insecure are eligible for assistance from federal nutrition programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), free or reduced-price school meals, and others.

Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, food insecurity is particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term health consequences.  Several studies have demonstrated that food insecurity impacts cognitive development among young children and is linked to poorer school performance in older children. Other data show the health consequences of food insecurity among children, including increased illness and higher associated health costs. 


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