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Every U.S. county has hungry children

More than 16 million children nationwide deal with the potential of hunger according to a new study released by Feeding America. "Food insecurity" among children can be found in every county in the nation and more than 1,000 counties have more than one in four children who are at risk of hunger.

The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2012” gives a one-of-a-kind look at the occurrence of child hunger in the U.S. at a county level.

Among the findings:
- Zavala, Texas has the highest rate of food insecurity in the nation with nearly half of the children there at risk of hunger.
- Child food insecurity is more pervasive in rural counties; 61 percent of high child food insecurity counties are considered rural.
- There are more than 640,000 food insecure children in Los Angeles County.

“In order to meet the needs of children who are food insecure, we need to look at the communities in which they live," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. "For example, if we find that there are significant numbers of children in a particular county who are entitled to be enrolled in child nutrition programs, but are not, our priority should be to increase enrollment."

Escarra added: "On the other hand, we also need to know if there are a number of families whose household income is too high, or who have too many financial assets, to qualify for these programs. If the only way to get additional food to them is through charities, such as the agencies served by our food banks, then we know we need to make that our priority."

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Feeding America is on track to provide more than 3.2 billion pounds of food and groceries this year through its network of 202 food banks that serve about 61,000 food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens. Feeding America's efforts are supported by the "Click Here To Give" and other programs at The Hunger Site. To learn more, please click here.

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