Mapping Food Insecurity


A new interactive map shows the percentage of food-insecure residents in every county and congressional district in the United States. (The Plate, Nat Geo)

Use our resources to better understand the “Paradox of Undernourishment.”

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including a link to the “Map the Meal Gap” and today’s MapMaker Interactive map of undernourishment around the world.

Experiment with layers on today's MapMaker Interactive map, which displays the rates of undernourishment around the world.
Experiment with layers on today’s MapMaker Interactive map, which displays the rates of undernourishment around the world.

Discussion Ideas

  • The Nat Geo blog post addresses the 49 million Americans who “find themselves in the position of being food insecure.” What is food security?
    • Food security describes the access a person, family, or community has to healthy foods.
    • According to the World Health Organization, food security is built on three pillars:
      • food availability—having sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
      • food access—having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
      • food use—ability to use foods based on knowledge of basic nutrition and health care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.


  • How is food insecurity different from hunger or undernourishment? Read through our great article on the “Paradox of Undernourishment” for some help.
    • Hunger is a physical condition marked by stomach pangs and general fatigue. People all over the world go hungry, even for just a few hours, when they don’t have enough to eat.
    • Undernourishment is a more chronic condition than hunger. Undernourishment affects communities, and even entire countries and regions.
    • Food insecurity encompasses the social and economic dimensions that lead to hunger and undernourishment.


  • Take a look at “Map the Meal Gap,” which maps food insecurity rates in dazzling detail. The map has layers displaying information on political or human geography. What are these layers?
    • “Map the Meal Gap” maps food insecurity according to:
      • political boundaries (counties)
      • political boundaries (congressional districts)
      • time (yearly from 2009-2013)
      • demographics (by age—you can map the food insecurity of children as well as the general population)





Nat Geo: While U.S. Economy Improves, Food Insecurity Lingers

Nat Geo: The Paradox of Undernourishment

Nat Geo: Layers of Undernourishment map

WHO: Food Security

Feeding America: Map the Meal Gap

Feeding America: Data by County in Each State

Feeding America: Find Your Local Food Bank

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