Approximately 2 million Marylanders could experience food insecurity in 2021, according to estimates from the Maryland Food Bank.
The Maryland Food Bank on Wednesday released their updated Maryland Hunger Map, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the United Way, the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Labor.
The map highlights varying hunger needs across the state, including “hunger hotspots” where the need for food assistance has surpassed the amount of food being distributed.
“Our Hunger Map places the Maryland Food Bank in a unique position to share various data points that demonstrate the current landscape of statewide food insecurity, all in one place,” Daniel Sturm, Maryland Food Bank’s vice president of learning, measurement and evaluation, said in a statement. “It is a compelling tool that reflects our major shift to prioritizing more data-driven and data-informed work.”
The map, first launched just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, shows hotspots largely clustered around Baltimore, Columbia and Annapolis. In that region, Dundalk and Glen Burnie have the highest amount of unmet food needs; both areas need over 3 million pounds of food more than is currently distributed.
In Baltimore City proper, the Belair-Edison and Cedonia-Frankford communities face the highest amount of unmet food needs, with each of those neighborhoods needing over 1 million pounds of food more than is currently distributed.
There are also hotspots around Waldorf in Charles County; Frederick in Frederick County; Hagerstown in Washington County; and Cumberland in Allegany County; as well as smaller pockets in northern Maryland and along the Eastern Shore.
The map offers data related to “hardship drivers” that present obstacles to food security, such as the number of unemployment insurance claims per 1,000 people and the percentage of households living below the federal poverty level.
The map also highlights food distribution points in an effort to make it easier for food insecure Marylanders to find and access local food resources.
The Maryland Food Bank officials said they will use the data to increase resources in under-served areas, but they added that the map is “just one piece within a much larger puzzle” in addressing food insecurity.
The food bank “will continue to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable communities while collaborating with partners to provide resources beyond food and address root causes of hunger so that more Marylanders can become financially stable and thrive,” organization officials said.
The food bank’s statewide food assistance network has distributed 66 million meals across Maryland since March 2020.