MIAMI
06/18/2013 01:30 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2013

South Florida Food Insecurity: Nearly A Million Residents Don't Know Where The Next Meal's Coming From, Study Says

Getty

South Florida may be filled with massive waterfront mansions, flashy nightclubs, and luxury shopping, but nearly a million residents are struggling to feed themselves.

Approximately 949,910 people in Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties aren't sure where their next meal is coming from, according to food bank network Feeding America's 2013 Map The Meal Gap study.

Alarmingly, an estimated 296,600 of those residents are children. South Florida's childhood food insecurity rate, which measures limited or uncertain access to adequate food at the household level, is just four points below the Florida average of 28.4 percent.

That number is high enough to rank Florida the 5th-worst among all states, and Miami-Dade is the 11th worst county nationwide.

A whopping 29 percent of these food insecure South Floridians don't qualify for federal nutrition programs and are forced to rely on emergency programs. To help meet their basic needs, according to Feeding South Florida, they need better wages and employment opportunities.

"We should be giving out close to 100 million pounds of food per year" to fight hunger on the local level, Feeding South Florida's board chairman Diana Brooks told the Sun Sentinel in March. "There's a place at the table for everyone to get involved."

Feeding America's findings shock even seasoned philanthropists.

"I have spent the last decade tackling global food insecurity, but always believed the United States’ social safety net meant hunger was not a significant challenge in this country,” Howard Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, said in a press release. “It took a number of eye-opening visits to local food banks and many conversations with people struggling to find their next meal to understand that hunger in America is a very real problem."

To estimate how many residents are food insecure in communities all across the U.S., researchers at Feeding America analyzed income level statistics collected by the USDA, Bureau of Labor and Census Bureau along with a food price analysis by The Nielsen Company. Check out the full study here, and breakdown of South Florida counties below from Feeding South Florida:

PHOTO GALLERIES
South Florida Food Insecurity

CONVERSATIONS