Center Finds More Than 1 in 3 Louisiana Residents Live in Food Insecure Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In-depth analysis powered by new COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform supports agencies and front-line organizations in making informed decisions to address vulnerability, economic stress and food security

Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA, May 21, 2020 -- Where we live matters for our social, economic and health outcomes. According to a new, in-depth analysis from the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) and UrbanFootprint, the leading location intelligence and urban planning software, the global coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted food accessibility across the state of Louisiana. In fact, the report finds that more than 1 in 3 Louisiana residents now live in food insecure communities. Food insecurity measures the difficulty of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritionally adequate food. In food insecure communities, families are forced to make tradeoffs between important basic needs such as food and medical care.

For the past 15 years, CPEX has been working throughout Louisiana to provide planning services that empower communities to provide the housing, transportation choices, quality public spaces and economic opportunities their residents want and need. UrbanFootprint's COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform is the latest addition to the company's cloud-based mapping and urban planning software, designed to inform responses to disaster and issues such as housing affordability, mobility, and access to critical resources. With the ability to dynamically measure social vulnerability, economic stress, health and accessibility, the new tool provides cities, agencies, and front-line responders with immediate data, analysis and mapping at an unprecedented level of granularity and actionable insights for an equitable recovery.

“The scale of the food security challenge brought on by the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. It’s critically important that we track the true scope and scale of the unfolding economic and social crisis, and in Louisiana, that we understand how food insecurity is distributed across the state’s communities,” said Joe DiStefano, CEO & Co-Founder of UrbanFootprint. “In order to support an effective response, we need to know how and where food insecurity is intensifying as unemployment grows and economic activity recedes.”

CPEX is partnering with UrbanFootprint to use their COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform to dynamically measure and map social vulnerability and economic stress, help policy makers and relief providers prioritize resources and inform just and equitable interventions to address a range of challenges, including food security, facing Louisiana communities.

“Our vision for recovery should be that every Louisianan lives in a place where their basic needs are met. The coronavirus has made clear that many of our residents live in places where they cannot access healthy food; safe, affordable housing and transportation; broadband internet service; and appropriate medical care,” said Camille Manning-Broome, President and CEO of Center for Planning Excellence. “Deploying data and information that provides a nuanced, place-based understanding of how our built environment is serving our residents is essential to expediting recovery, aligning resources with the most effective interventions, tracking impacts, and building the resilience our state needs to thrive in the future. “

The full CPEX/UrbanFootprint analysis on food insecurity in Louisiana, which measures risk due to a combination of socio-economic factors, jobless claims and economic stress, pre-existing health conditions and lack of grocery stores, can be found here. Key insights include:

More than 1 in 3 Louisiana residents now live in food insecure communities due to COVID-19

The number of Louisiana residents living in food insecure communities has increased by over 500,000, now totaling more than 1.6 million people

Nearly half of newly food insecure communities are small towns and unincorporated rural areas

Food insecurity has increased dramatically in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where approximately 65% of residents live in food insecure communities.

The top five food insecure cities in Louisiana are Monroe, New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Alexandria

The immediate needs resulting from the pandemic are exposing long-standing vulnerabilities and deep inequities in resource distribution and access to opportunity.

“As Mayor, it is my belief that all decisions should be data driven. Access to the type of hyper-local, dynamic data provided by the COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform would be valuable in my efforts to develop targeted strategies that address areas of greatest need throughout East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “In 2019, I launched my Geaux Get Healthy Initiative as part of my Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative. Geaux Get Healthy addresses food insecurity and in the first year we focused on the 70805 zip code because the data told us that was where there was the greatest need. With even more hyper-local data, we would be able to address food insecurity not only on a zip code level, but on a neighborhood level as well.”

As a planning tool, the COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform can help officials and community groups close the gap between supply and demand by identifying locations that can reach the most at-risk residents. For example, strategically placing popup food pantries at schools and religious organizations for improved access to food in Louisiana’s most food insecure communities.

“The data on the state of food security in Louisiana provided by the COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform will not only be extremely valuable as we respond and recover from the spread of COVID-19, but also as a long-term planning tool that informs critical policy decisions around hunger and poverty in our state,” said Korey Patty, Executive Director of Feeding Louisiana.

“The COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform is providing granular information on areas where our work against food insecurity is needed most or needs to be intensified,” said Mike Manning, President & CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. “As a result, we are better able to focus our response and maximize the impact of our efforts for our communities.”

About Center for Planning Excellence
Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) is a non-profit organization that drives urban, rural and regional planning efforts in Louisiana. We provide best-practice planning models, innovative policy ideas, and technical assistance to individual communities that wish to create and enact plans dealing with transportation and infrastructure needs, environmental issues, and quality design for the built environment. CPEX brings community members and leaders together to work toward a shared vision for sustainable growth, climate change adaptation and resilience. Since our founding in 2006, CPEX has been involved with the planning efforts of more than 30 Louisiana cities, towns and parishes.

About UrbanFootprint

UrbanFootprint is cloud-based Urban Intelligence software that delivers urban planning, mobility, resilience, and disaster response insights to government, enterprise, and academic institutions across the U.S. Led by experts in emergency response and recovery, the UrbanFootprint team developed the COVID-19 Recovery Insights Platform to help public agencies and front‑line organizations save lives and prepare for critical economic and social impacts. For more information on UrbanFootprint, please visit:


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