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Feeding Florida Unveils Metric to Better Target Hunger in Florida

Feeding Florida commissioned researcher Mari Gallagher to conduct the study now known as the "Meal Deficit Metric."
Feeding Florida commissioned researcher Mari Gallagher to conduct the study now known as the "Meal Deficit Metric."
Feeding Florida commissioned researcher Mari Gallagher to conduct the study now known as the "Meal Deficit Metric."
Credit KAYLA GALLAGHER / WFSU NEWS
Feeding Florida commissioned researcher Mari Gallagher to conduct the study now known as the "Meal Deficit Metric."

Feeding Florida, the state’s network of 12 food banks, is trying to take a more localized approach to addressing hunger needs across the state. The organization has  released a survey called the “Meal Deficit Metric” to measure hunger in Florida based on how many meals are missed per household. 

“We were able to put together a model that uses only Florida’s specific data...that looks at every block group across Florida and develops a score for those block groups," explained reasearcher Mari Gallagher. "Block groups are just small units of measurement that consist of a cluster of blocks, and are looking at all households regardless of income."

The Meal Deficit Metric breaks down communities into smaller groups so that they can be analyzed based on their own personal needs combatting the general stereotypes of addressing hunger in the community. Feeding Florida says it’s trying to be “hyper-local” in its approach to hunger. Florida’s food banks say they’re working on hurricane relief plans using this new data to better respond to emergencies and disasters.

“One of the big struggles we all have in disasters like that is identifying where the pockets of individuals are," said Feeding Florida Executive Director Robin Safley. "Obviously if you are well-sourced, you’d probably have the capability of evacuating, you also have insurance, and that type of stuff so you can handle the fall-out of a hurricane or catastrophe like that.  So really, what we’re left with are those individuals who are already marginalized in some way, and I believe that this data is really gonna help drive any type of disaster--us knowing where those pockets [of need] are probably going to still be on the other side of the storm.” 

The “Meal Deficit Metric” breaks down Florida into 11,400 groups, a small unit a measurement, so that an accurate analysis can be done for each community and their hunger needs. 

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