Food insecurity

Food insecurity is an economic and social condition characterized by having limited or unreliable access to nutritious food. It is associated with chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health issues including major depression, according to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).

Click "Change Filter" in the above chart to view food insecurity rates dating back to 2011.


Food insecurity rate
in Clark County in 2016


Food insecurity rate
in Nevada in 2016


Food insecurity rate
in the U.S. in 2016

Food insecurity rates hit lowest levels since the recession

Approximately 1-in-8 Southern Nevadans experienced food insecurity, according to the most recent estimates, which falls in line with both state and national levels. At roughly 13 percent, food insecurity rates are at their lowest since 2011 and have consistently declined since the recession.

The food insecurity rate has dropped 26.4 percent in the region since 2011, resulting in approximately 60,000 less food insecure Southern Nevadans. However, this still means that more than 275,000 experienced food insecurity in the region in 2016. The highest concentrations of food insecurity in the region are in the central and northeast valley, downtown Henderson, and around UNLV (see map below).

Food insecurity rates have fallen 21.3 percent nationally since 2011, and 27 percent in Nevada.

Click on a Census Track to view additional data, including poverty rates, household without access to a vehicle, and median household income. Click the top-right buttons to view the map legend and to change various map settings.

In addition to food insecurity, addressing food deserts – low-income areas with limited access to grocery stores – in the region remain a priority for local leaders and community providers. As of 2015, there were 32 Census Tracts within the urbanized region of the valley designated as food deserts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with approximately 135,000 Southern Nevadans living within them.

About the data

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

Feeding America uses a scientific process to determine the food insecurity rate for every county in the United States. Three Square Food Bank, with the support of Feeding America and research partners, applied the same formula to data collected for 66 ZIP codes in Clark County. The formula used to determine food insecurity percentages include data from American Communities Survey, Nielsen’s consumer research, Applied Analysis, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Data points collected and reported on by these groups include: median household income, poverty rates, housing, and race/ethnicity. These characteristics are weighted by risk associated with food insecure households according to published literature. More information about the research methodology for Map the Meal Gap can be reviewed here.

To learn more about food insecurity in Southern Nevada or for additional information on the data presented above, contact Southern Nevada Strong. Visit Three Square's website for information on hunger in Southern Nevada. 

Last updated: October 2018