Special Report

Metro Areas Where Families Pay the Most for Food

Methodology

To determine the metros with the highest food costs for a family of four, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Economic Policy Institute’s 2022 Family Budget Calculator.

In the Family Budget Calculator, the EPI estimates the annual food budget necessary for families to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living. The budgets are created for 10 family types for U.S. counties and metro areas. A family of four is defined by the EPI as a married couple living with their two children, and the two children are assumed to be a four-year-old and an eight-year-old. Food cost estimates assume that almost all food is purchased at a grocery store and prepared at home.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metros are ranked based on the EPI’s annual food cost estimates. Ties were broken based on the rate of food insecurity. The food insecurity rate – or the share of the population that lacks adequate access to food – is from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. 

Additional information on median family income and the share of households that receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly known as food stamps – are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. Because the Census Bureau did not release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.

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