NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new nationwide estimate shows that there may be around 11 million “food insecure” youth across the U.S., and nearly 100,000 of them are in New Mexico. These numbers come from Map the Meal Gap, a report by the non-profit Feeding America. Their goal, for over 40 years, has been to fight hunger in the U.S.

They estimate that across New Mexico, both children and adults are “food insecure.” This means that they sometimes lack access to enough food for a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, Feeding America estimates that a little over 20% of all children in New Mexico under the age of 18 were food insecure in 2020. That places New Mexico as the second worst state for child food insecurity, according to Feeding America. About a quarter of those children, they estimate, are ineligible for federal nutrition programs.

“Every community in this country experiences food insecurity, but we do not all experience it the same way. This data provides the most complete picture available, and we know behind these data are people and communities who will be impacted by the changes we must make to ensure no one goes hungry,” Tom Summerfelt, the chief research officer of Feeding America, said in a news release. “It is only by understanding the realities of food insecurity within our communities that we can truly address them.”

In New Mexico, Roadrunner Food Bank acts as the local member bank for Feeding America. And they say it’s been hard to feed New Mexico’s hungry due to rising costs.

“Right now, inflation is impacting everyone including the food bank. The funds we use to source and purchase food can’t go quite as far and there is less food inventory available in our warehouse to meet the need,” Mag Strittmatter, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said in a newsrelease. “This year we are really feeling the pinch. For the people we serve, they are too. They are facing additional stress and uncertainty with rising costs. They worry about how they will cover increases to everyday needs like food, housing, and energy expenses. Their incomes and monthly budgets have no room to weather increases like we have seen this year.”

Feeding America shows that Luna County had the highest estimated childhood hunger rate in New Mexico at 32.7% of the under-18 population. McKinley and Catron followed with a little under 30%. In Bernalillo County, an estimated 20.3% of the under 18 population experiences food insecurity.