Feeding America study shows more people are hungry in East Texas New Map the Meal Gap numbers released today

Map the Meal Gap blog header

More East Texans are food insecure and the increase in food prices and the amount of money they need to buy food has reached its highest point in the last 20 years, according to Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study.

At the local level, Map the Meal Gap finds that in East Texas more people are hungry with the new data numbers showing 1 in 6 East Texas adults are hungry including 1 in 4 children with a meal gap of over 40.8 million meals. That is a significant change from the 1 in 7 adults including 1 in 5 children from the previous study. The East Texas Food Bank is one of more than 200 food banks that are part of Feeding America’s nationwide food bank network.

Map the Meal Gap is the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity and food costs for every county and congressional district. The study builds upon the USDA’s latest report of national and state data, which showed a sharp increase in food insecurity in 2022 amidst historically high food prices and the expiration of many pandemic-era programs. Map the Meal Gap emphasizes the urgent call for all of us to take action.

“This year’s study confirms what we hear from people facing hunger: higher food prices are making hunger in America worse,” said Kim Morris, Chief Impact Officer for the East Texas Food Bank. “Map the Meal Gap helps us understand the impact of food insecurity and underlines that we can choose to end hunger in America by coming together as a nation.”

Other key findings of the 2022 Map the Meal Gap in East Texas versus 2021 data include:

  • 1 in 6 adults or 16.9% are food insecure compared to 1 in 7 adults (14.8%) from 2021 data
  • 1 in 4 children or 26.1% are food insecure compared to 1 in 5 children (20.9%) from 2021 data
  • 217,260 are food insecure in East Texas up from 188,530
  • 78,620 of children are food insecure up from 63,260

Income and Food Spending: 

  • Nearly 50% of people facing hunger may not qualify for SNAP benefits due to income thresholds.
  • The national food budget shortfall, which reflects the extra money that people who are food insecure report needing to cover their food needs, has hit a record high of $33.1 billion, up nearly 43% from the previous year. This translates to $24.73 a week per person, on average.

Food Costs and Meal Prices: 

  • Meal costs vary significantly throughout the nation and here in East Texas the average cost of a meal is $3.57 up from $3.17. Costs are at their highest point in the last two decades even after adjusting for inflation.

      Food Insecurity by Race and Ethnicity in East Texas from the 2022 Map the Meal Gap vs. 2021 data

  • 29% of Blacks are food insecure (1 in 3) compared to 24% or (1 in 4) from 2021 data
  • 22% of Hispanics are food insecure (1 in 5) compared to 16% or (1 in 6) from 2021 data
  • 12% of Whites are food insecure (1 in 8) compared to 9% or (1 in 11) from 2021 data

The Map the Meal Gap study is supported by Conagra Brands Foundation and NielsenIQ/NIQ. Additional key takeaways from the report can be found on the Map the Meal Gap website along with an interactive map that details food insecurity by geography, income, race and ethnicity.


Map the Meal Gap uses publicly available data from the USDA ERS, U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate local food insecurity at the county, congressional district and state levels. The study also estimates local meal costs and food budget shortfalls using food price data from NIQ based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, and grocery sales tax data for every county and state in the country.

To learn how food insecurity impacts your community, click here.