What data and measures are included in the Atlas?
- The Missouri Hunger Atlas presents more than 50 indicators of food insecurity, hunger need, program performance, and county profile information.
- Data sources include the U.S. Census, federal and state agencies, and national and state organizations that track data on hunger need and program performance. To be included in the Atlas, data sources must have consistent data for all 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City overall an extended time period.
- Indicator results are based on most recent data available from data partners by calendar year (January 1 – December 31), state fiscal year (July 1 – June 30), or federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30).
- Currently, results from the 2019, 2016, and 2013 Missouri Hunger Atlas are included in the webapp.
- Atlas data sources and measures will continue to evolve with valued input and feedback from Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security stakeholders.
How can I find data for my county?
Data for Missouri counties can be explored using several options on the navigation bar.
- County Data Tables: view single-page printer-friendly snapshots of indicators for each of Missouri's 114 counties and St. Louis City.
- Browse Data: select measure data for one or more counties and one or more time periods. Selected data can be downloaded or displayed graphically.
- Map Data: view single-page printer-friendly maps of statewide results on indicators for Missouri's 114 counties and St. Louis City.
- Archive: access downloadable data files and printer-friendly PDF versions of prior editions of the Missouri Hunger Atlas databook.
What results do the county data tables contain?
County Data Tables include printable county-level results from the 2019 Missouri Hunger Atlas for county profile, need, and performance indicators.
- County Profile Indicators. County profile indicators include demographic, health, and economic indicators. Demographic indicators describe the characteristics of the county and provide context for understanding need and performance indicators. Health variables related to diet and overall health status closely correlate with food security. Economic measures include poverty as the best predictor of food insecurity in the United States, as well as median household income, unemployment rate, and female-headed households. Food affordability, a new measure introduced in the Missouri Hunger Atlas, is described below.
- Need Indicators. Need indicators provide an estimate of the extent of food insecurity and hunger for residents of each Missouri county. These outcome indicators signal how many individuals and families are affected by a lack of food security, and how many may be eligible for federal hunger relief programs, during the time period covered by the data.
- Performance Indicators. Performance indicators provide county-level measures of the extent to which residents participated in public and private programs intended to address food insecurity during the time period covered by the data. By tracking county program performance, the degree of success of programs intended to address hunger and food insecurity can be explored.
For interpreting county data table results, the percent of individuals food insecure for Adair County from the 2019 Atlas is presented as an example. Each indicator includes three columns of information:
- The "County" column reports the result for the county on this indicator; in this case, 17.5 percent of Adair County's total population was food insecure.
- The "State" column shows the rate of food insecurity for the entire population of Missouri; in this case, 14.2 percent.
The "Rank" column indicates the county's rank in comparison with all other Missouri counties and St. Louis City. Individual county results for the entire state are divided into five equal groupings (or quintiles) to reveal if a county's need or performance level is in the top 20%, second highest 20%, and so on. The labels under "Rank" indicate the following groups:
- Very High: county is in 80th to 100th percentile for the state
- High: 60th to 79th percentile
- Average: 40th to 59th percentile
- Low: 20th to 39th percentile
- Very Low: 1st to 19th percentile
In this case, Adair County is in the highest quintile of Missouri counties for percent of individuals who are food insecure (labeled "Very High").
What is food affordability?
- Food affordability is a county-level estimate of the percent of weekly income households must use to meet basic food needs. The measure was introduced as an economic indicator in the 2013 Atlas.
- Low-income households often have to make tough choices about how to spend their money, which may result in smaller amounts of household funds available for food expenditures. Higher food costs can also limit household food choices and increase food insecurity.
- The percent of income needed to meet basic household food needs can influence the quantity, quality, and types of food families purchase.
- To calculate food affordability, median household income is divided by average household size, then divided by 52 weeks in a year, to calculate average weekly median household income.
- Next, average weekly cost of meals is calculated using average cost of meals, multiplied by 21 meals each week, assuming three meals each day.
- Finally, food affordability is calculated by dividing average weekly median household income by average weekly cost of meals and multiplied by 100.
- The resulting statistic is the percent of weekly income households need to purchase food.
What is county rank and overall rank?
- County rank represents a county's position on an outcome indicator relative to all other 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City.
- County ranks are not directly comparable from year to year. Although many data sources remain consistent over time, variations in data collection and reporting occur which can make comparisons unreliable.
- Counties with smaller populations may see greater amounts of change on an indicator from year to year, compared to counties with larger populations.
- The overall rank is the weighted average of county rankings on several key outcome measures and represents the relative position of a county in the context of all 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City. The Missouri Hunger Atlas includes an overall rank on hunger need and performance to summarize the county's overall status.
What is overall need vs. performance?
- Comparing need and performance is a measure of how each county ranks on a combination of overall need and performance.
- Counties with a composite need rank in the upper two quintiles (very high or high) are categorized as "high need." Counties are "low need" if their composite need rank is in the lowest two quintiles (low or very low).
- Similarly, counties whose composite performance rank is in the upper two quintiles (very high or high) are categorized as "high performance." Counties are designated "low performance" if their composite performance rank is in the lowest two quintiles (low or very low).
- Counties that are average, or in the middle quintile in need or performance rank, are not included in the analysis.
- The comparison of overall need and performance results in four groupings of counties: 1) high need/high performance, 2) high need/low performance, 3) low need/high performance, or 4) low need/low performance.
- A statewide map of overall need vs. performance results by county is included in each edition of the Missouri Hunger Atlas.
What do state-level indicator maps display?
- Under Map Data, users can access numerous statewide maps of county profile, hunger, and performance indicator results.
- The indicator maps provide a color-coded visualization of all county rankings in the state. Each map divides the state into five equal fifths, or quintiles, according to the complete results for the measure. A quintile includes one-fifth, or 23, of the counties in the state.
- The quintiles on each map are arranged from "very low" (the 23 counties with lowest need or performance on that measure) to "very high" (the 23 counties with highest need or performance).
- For instance, in the 2019 Missouri Hunger Atlas, the percent of individuals food insecure in each county ranges from a state low of 9.0 percent (St. Charles County) to a high of 23.3 percent (St. Louis City).
- To make the state map of food insecurity for the total population, the 23 counties with the lowest levels of food insecurity (9.0–12.4 percent) are in the first, or lowest need, quintile. The second quintile includes the 23 counties next lowest in levels of food insecurity, with rates from 12.5 to 13.5 percent.
- This pattern continues to the fifth quintile or highest need group, which includes 23 counties with food insecurity rates from 15.5 to 23.3 percent.
How do percentages influence comparisons and use of results?
- The Missouri Hunger Atlas is a conversation starter. When a trend on any indicator is interpreted, the data have to be inserted into the context of what has occurred in the county. Have changes in economic conditions or employment altered the food security of local families? Are food pantries seeing a drop or increase in the number of clients or requests for assistance?
- The atlas uses percentages rather than absolute numbers. Most indicators reveal the percentage of a county's population that is food insecure, for example, rather than the actual number. Because of this, need and performance measures can be compared between counties with different populations throughout the state.
- In addition to things happening in the county, the results are relative to other counties. Even though one county may have improved on an indicator since the last time period, it may not rank as high as it did before because other counties may have improved as well.
Finally, percentages can also cloak important differences in the actual, overall number of people affected by an issue. For example, percent of people eligible for SNAP may be lower in a highly populated area like St. Louis County when compared to a less populated area like Pemiscot County. However, more individuals, in terms of the overall number of people, are eligible for SNAP in the highly populated county due to overall population of the county. The diagram below shows that 23.2% of residents in Pemiscot County are affected by food insecurity, compared to 9.0% of residents in St. Charles County.
However, the actual number of people affected in Pemiscot County is 4,020 compared to 34,580 in St. Charles County. In fact, the overall number of people who are food insecure in St. Charles County alone is approximately three times greater than Pemiscot, Mississippi, and New Madrid Counties combined.