“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”–Mahatma Gandhi.
“Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”–Anne Frank.
Food Insecurity is everyone’s problem. It is a difficult problem. However, by not solving it, we create many more problems that we have to pay for with our taxes.
much of the population is in poor health because of bad or no food.
an education system that has more low performers than necessary
a bigger portion of our population that has to rely on government subsidies
We solve this problem as a nation and as a part of the world community. How big is this problem, and what is it?
What is Food Insecurity
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. As are all the societal problems we face, Food Insecurity is very complex. Hunger and Health from Feeding America list several causes of Food Insecurity. Some causes of Food Insecurity are:
lack of affordable housing
Chronic or acute health problems
effects of the coronavirus pandemic
Levels of Food Security
The USDA describes 4 levels of Food Insecurity rather than just being food secure or food insecure. The top two levels reflect the households categorized as food secure, and the bottom two levels categorize those households that are food insecure.
A USDA study in 2018 by Coleman-Jensen, A., et al. (2019). Household Food Security in the United States in 2018. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Stated that 1 in 9 households suffered from food insecurity. This means that 37 million people, 1/3 of whom are children, were food insecure. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has hit the number of people who are food insecure will grow to 54 million this year with 25% being children respectively, according to Feeding America.
The map and table show the states and food insecurity in the United States by the rate of change (see Table) and by all states (see map) we can only conclude that our problem is huge and growing.
Globally, around 795 million people lack access to adequate food resources. This equates to approximately one in nine hungry humans who do not have enough to eat. Despite this clear and growing problem, little is being done, and in fact almost every year we destroy food rather than get it to where people need it. This is a priority that must change.
Why are farmers dumping milk and food on the ground?
We see these appalling numbers, there are news reports of dairy farmers who can’t sell their milk. This happens because the old markets the farmers had are no longer there and they haven’t found new markets and a means of transporting their product to them. The Chicago Sun times say that as a nation we face an unsettling new challenge of getting our food to where it is needed.
This problem and many others like it may show that the American economy is going to go through a transition into a new period where the farmer gets paid for his work by the market or by the government as a purchaser of last resort. The product purchased by the government will go to those areas of food insecurity to improve the health and well-being of the country.
Consider the pandemic-era limitations of SNAP benefits, the successor to food stamps. SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy food online at newly created virtual farmers’ markets, making it harder for poorer people to get fresh food, according to Block Club Chicago. That’s a ripe place for a sensible policy change. As citizens, we must get involved to push for the needed policy changes.
Our Role as Citizens in resolving the problem
As individuals, we often feel that it isn’t worth our time to get involved. And if we are food secure, we think it is not our problem. But it only takes a single pebble to start a landslide. Get involved!
Find out the facts for your region. For example, from the map above over 20% of the people in New Mexico are food insecure. How can we expect our children to learn and grow up to build a better world if they don’t have enough to eat?
Urge your government representatives both local and national to do something about solving food insecurity
Contribute food or money to the local food bank
Volunteer at the local food bank
Lobby the USDA to fix the systemic problems in food creation and transportation
Lobby the government to be the buyer and distributor of last resort.
“Food feeds both the body and soul–there are clear reasons to eat a balanced diet, but there are also reasons you cling to your mom’s secret chicken noodle soup recipe when you’re sick.”–Michael Mina.