What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity is not knowing how or when you will eat next. This daunting stressor not only affects those without jobs or homes, but also full-time employees and people with a roof over their heads. About 50 million people are experiencing food insecurity in America… one of the richest countries in the world.
Notice that Greece went bankrupt, yet they have a smaller percentage of food insecurity than America…
Who is experiencing food insecurity?
While 50 million Americans are experiencing food insecurity, about 38 million are living below the poverty line. That means about 12 million people are unable to receive resources and are suffering with stress and malnutrition.
Here are some facts from the documentary, “A Place at the Table”, addressing America’s deficit in food insecurity:
-1 in 4 children is food insecure
-85 percent of the food insecure families have at least one working adult in the household.
-The National School lunch program reimburses schools $2.68 for a meal. After taking out costs for labor, administration, gas, electricity, custodial services, schools report they have between $.90 and $1 to spend on food. (When $.06 was added to the reimbursement in 2012 those funds were removed from the food stamp program.)
-Only 25 percent of 19-24 year olds are found fit for military service. One of the principal reasons is that too many of our young people are overweight.
-The average food stamp benefit is under $5 a day and a family of 4 cannot have an income that exceeds $29,000 a year to qualify.
-44 million Americans are on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP- formerly food stamps). One of every 2 kids will be on assistance at some point in their life.
What programs are available?
The programs currently available to those who qualify are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). However, if you make $1 more than the qualifying household income, you will be turned away. This puts many people in a terrible situation. Do you make less to qualify, making rent and bills more difficult to pay? Or do you continue to buy high-caloric foods to get to the next day? Since 1980, the price of fresh fruits and vegetables increased 40 percent, while processed food prices have decreased by 40 percent. It’s pretty clear where our country’s values lay at this point.
What is the impact of food insecurity?
Food insecurity is generally temporary, however, the negative affects can be permanent. According to Feeding America, children from families that are experiencing hunger are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school, experience developmental impairments such as language and motor skills, and have more social and behavioral problems.
Food insecurity trickles down to many more problems such as malnutrition, stress, obesity, and chronic disease- diabetes being one of the most prevalent. Once these negative effects have impacted families, it becomes a life-long struggle between health and food costs.
It is estimated that the cost of hunger and food insecurity to the U.S. economy is $167 billion per year.
If you, or someone you know, are in need of emergency relief, here are some helpful resources:
Find a food bank near you
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
****A quick plug for my favorite non-profit organization****
Evanston’s C.O.P.E. offers sustenance programs, providing monthly groceries for families in Evanston. The grocery program values nutritious foods and offers cooking classes for those interested in finding new, cost efficient ways to cook for the family. If you are interested in supporting the C.O.P.E. grocery program, visit their website at http://www.evanstoncope.org/ and click “Programs” to see what they offer to the community. To can donate directly to families experiencing food insecurity in Evanston, find “Sustenance” under the programs list.