As joblessness and poverty continue to hit Americans hard, nearly 8.4 million families across the country are hungry, according to a recent report by Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

The “Map the Meal Gap,” released on March 24, uses an interactive map of the U.S. to take a look at hunger issues across the country at local community levels. The report drew on data collected by the Department of Agriculture and the Census Bureau. Food price data was analyzed by the Nielsen Company, an information and measurement firm that monitors what consumers watch and buy.

“We know hunger exists in every state across the nation, but looks different from county to county, and therefore, so do the solutions,” Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, said in a statement. “The results of this study show that the best way for us to help people facing hunger is to understand who is hungry and why they are hungry at the community level.

Los Angeles, Calif. manifested the largest dimension of what the survey called “food insecurity,” or the gap between what people need and what they can afford, with a reported 1.7 million people facing a food shortage. New York City followed with 1.3 million experiencing food shortages and Chicago, Ill.’s Cook County came in third with 846,000 people.

In the Baltimore/Washington D.C. metropolitan area, 130,050 people are experiencing food shortage in Baltimore City people, while the figure in Baltimore County is 92,360, 110,770 residents in Prince George’s County and 93,180 residents in Washington D.C.

By utilizing data from the Census Bureau, the report also found that people struggling with hunger would need, on average, nearly $56 more during their most financially tight months to attend to the shortages in their food budget. “Map the Meal Gap” found that this shortfall totals nearly $21.3 billion annually.

The map shows the percentage of the food insecure population who qualify based on income for SNAP (food stamps) and other nutrition programs, as well as those who don’t qualify. The data also shows the average price per meal in each county.

Of the 50 counties with the highest number of food-short people, half are majority-White counties, one in four are at least one-third Hispanic and one in eight have at least one-third African-American residents.

To view the ‘Map Meal Gap’ report, visit: